As I mentioned in my last post, a personal veggie garden is out for this season. So you can imagine my excitement when my local Zen Center offered a course entitled “True Nourishment from the Boundless Field” taught by gardening guru and one of the founding members of Green Gulch Farm, Wendy Johnson. Of course I signed up.

Now, I’ll be honest, when I read the description about gardening with mindfulness, I had no idea that the small class would actually be transforming an open field into a 36′ x 36′ fenced and gated vegetable garden complete with prayer flag border and central altar. Nor did I expect to end each day wondering how I would ever move again, my joints were so stiff and muscles so sore from unaccustomed heavy labor. But man, am I glad I went.

It was amazing watching the garden take shape and to learn about the seeds that were selected for their local history and drought-resistance (including Navajo Blue Corn, Scarlet Runner Beans, Aztec White Beans, Amaranth, Quinoa, Hopi Dye Sunflowers, and a wide variety of squash). It also felt great to get my hands in the soil again, to manhandle compost, and feed the soil. But the best part, hands-down, was working with so many wonderful people dedicated to both gardening and the reason for this garden, to help the Zen Center and its community take one step closer to food security.

But the best part is, now that the garden is installed, I can volunteer to help it as it grows, learning about this unaccustomed climate as I go.

Gardening is a beautiful and important thing, but gardening with others makes it that much sweeter. Visit the American Community Gardening Association to learn more or find a garden near you.