Jan 23rd, 2017

The Verdant Heart

The first class of Beautiful RVA‘s Ginter Urban Gardeners gathers twice a week, for 12 weeks, to do the very important work of making a difference: learning new things, building relationships, getting their hands dirty and transforming themselves into a new crop of urban gardeners dedicated to building up the Richmond community. This very special group of citizens have more than a few things in common,  a love of gardening and a passion for community-building, willingness to learn, a desire to serve, a dedication to make a difference, and courage to transform a community. Support for this program is provided by The Community Foundation. Participant Shelly Bowman  writes about her journey and shares her reflections as a participant in the workshops. 

urban gardener extract kale juice for testing (2)

Soil expert Jessica Smith showing the Ginter Urban Gardener class how to extract kale juice from a leaf to test its nutrients. Photo by Phuong Tran

If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. ‘Green fingers’ are a fact, and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart. ― Russell Page, The Education of a Gardener

Ginter Urban Gardeners

It was incredibly humbling to walk into the Storefront for Community Design for the first time on the night that our first Ginter Urban Gardeners class met. That this is life-changing with huge community-building and changing potential was not lost on me. As I looked around, I was caught up in the wonder of what we could do together, this roomful of hopeful, excited people.

Our first class was an unexpected but incredibly thought-provoking journey through John Moeser’s presentation “Unpacking the 2010 Census: An Overview of Poverty, Race, and Jurisdiction in Metropolitan Richmond”. At the heart of our discussions was one common thread — the need to understand the history of Richmond, the things that have divided us, the pains suffered, the vibrancy and spirit of the communities in which we will work.

The concept of the verdant heart encompasses this fully. To have a verdant heart is to have an open, overflowing heart, one that infuses energy and encourages growth. As we work towards healing our wounds and building stronger communities through beautification and sustainability projects, we must proceed with the most verdant and humblest of hearts. We must strive to eradicate barrenness and bleakness. We must foster an environment that grows wild, limitless hope. And we must ensure that this environment celebrates diversity, respects history, and is genuine in its intent and expression.

We cannot undo the past but we can face it, boldly and without excuses. This is not easy. It isn’t comfortable. It will get messy and challenge us. But as we face the wounds of the past and present, we can move forward honestly and openly to make our world a better place.

Ginter urban gardeners group photo

The inaugural Ginter Urban Gardeners class working in an urban garden off of Bainbridge in Southside Richmond. Author Shelly Bowman is in center with black and blue hat. Photo by Phuong Tran

Shelly is an all around geek who loves to share her experiences. She has a passion for music, technology and Mother Earth. She is an accidental gardener, an intentional wanderer and a hopeful adventurer. She is a member of Beautiful RVA's inaugural Ginter Urban Gardeners class and Garden volunteer.

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