Here are more comments and observations from students.
Everything we do to the earth comes back to us, and because we have become so disconnected with nature, we are in turn becoming disconnected from each other.... Our garden is Transy’s way of trying to bring back a part of a sense of community, a desire to help one another.
As a college student I have lived in a world where everyone communicates via text message, and the Internet has replaced nearly all books as a preferred source of information. This life seems totally disconnected to nature. Electronics have taken the place of nature in our lives, and sometimes it seems as though we have abandoned nature whenever possible. Yet, nature has always inspired people to grow. A person working with the land can become re-attached, realizing the value of what the earth provides.
The sense of community built through a garden, the link between generations that can be created by a garden and also the re-connection to Nature that a garden creates are what make a garden more then just a plot of land used to cultivate crops. A garden serves a much more important purpose in life on earth, one that I did not know about prior to taking this class.
The garden is something very precious. It holds beauty, knowledge, and life. In order to understand everything that the garden has to offer, we must build a relationship with it. And even though Transylvania is located in downtown Lexington, “we are never outside the natural world, no matter where we live or what we do. The great challenge of modernity is to remember…just how interconnected the world is” (William Cronon).
The students and faculty who worked in the garden learned how to grow and care for crops, as well as other important skills like building a shed. Yet the one thing that this garden teaches everyone is a way to truly live happy and healthy lives, while creating a community atmosphere. This is perhaps the most important thing a garden could ever teach us.
Gardening matters, because it teaches a person to care, and it teaches gratitude.
“What is good about hard work is that it teaches you about little pleasures.” (Wendell Berry) This course has taught me about those little pleasures; I forgot how enjoyable a book is when it is not a textbook, how wonderful the soil feels in your hand, and the little exciting butterflies you get in your stomach when you see your crop poking its head above the soil. The lessons I learned here will be carried with me for the rest of my life and I have the garden of Transylvania to thank for that.
Our urban garden is a sign of life in the middle of the city. It is also a place for people, like me, who do not have much experience with growing things to see how food is grown and how much hard work goes into it. I think our garden is a great example of a way to live in and experience the city, while still finding a connection to the Earth.
Our garden also calls attention to the fact that food can be easily grown using methods that Vandana Shiva would approve of. Our food does not need to be grown using synthetic fertilizers, be extremely overpackaged, or come from thousands of miles away. While exploring the methods we use in our garden, students will come across other ways of doing things and will be able to use their own judgment to determine their merits.
Any student in our class can clearly see the function of the garden as a learning tool, with educational powers no textbook or lecture could ever harness. I find that best knowledge comes from a process of doing, of engagement. People could read a thousand texts on how to maintain and cultivate a garden, but if they never soiled their hands in planting and tending to a garden they would not have real knowledge.