Of all the key ingredients to creating a successful and sustainable school garden projects, in my journey, I say I could not have done nearly as much without the unwavering support of who I call my “Wonder Twin” Parent/Partner in change, Merrill.
After an extensive search through all my photos, and I have at least a 1000 by now, I can barely find any of Merrill. She is a very private person; no social media connection at all and only appears in the background of the many events we’ve had at the garden. Despite that, she is a huge part of this project and I’ve been called to publicly thank her.
You see, when you embark on a project that involves many barriers and obstacles, there comes a time when your voice gets hoarse after repeating yourself so many times in so many ways; from grant applications to committee reports to any kind of reports.
In the late hours of one particular evening writing an extensive grant, explaining for the umpteenth time how important our project and program is, I lost my voice. I literally tired of saying the same thing over and over again in different ways. That’s when my Wonder Twin stepped in with her unwavering energy. In saying “I’m done.”, she was able to step in and continue. I hung up the phone and she continued to type out the grant application till God knows when. The wave of gratitude that washed over me when I went to bed that night was immense.
Everyone needs a “Merrill” a “Wonder Twin”; to voice what you already know but may have forgotten, to keep going for you when you are tired and to remind you of what is truly possible and when you join forces, you truly feel you can do anything!
One needs a second set of eyes to go through and re read what you might have typed so many times that you don’t “see” it anymore. You need someone to go over budgets and costs of course but you also need someone to back up what you might already know, that you deserve more than what you are accounting for. That’s who Merrill is. She not only edits, revises, helps with accounting (Best Excel Spreadsheet Creator ever!), backs me up during meetings and is more than just a presence when we are presenting to the board of education. She thinks of things when I don’t, she does things I don’t like to do, she reminds me of things I forget and when we get together to discuss, plan or work at the garden, don’t time us. We can take a long while hashing out what needs to be done. Our husbands no longer keep us to our word that we will “only be an hour”. If they know we are talking to each other about the garden, they just both say “yeah, ok, see you in a few!” hours that is 😉
The phrase “Surround yourself with like minded individuals” resonates deeply when I get asked how I did this. It’s an understatement. You need people who believe in a school garden project as much or more than you do. You need people to have a similar vision or greater with ideas you wouldn’t think about because you can only be focused on so many things at once. You need that group of folks that will show up in the rain, blaring sun with toddlers in tow because they believe in the project that darn much. And if you are one of those volunteers who believes you don’t have that much to offer, I suggest you re think that one because if all you have is the faith and belief in the project, that is really all that is needed sometimes. If you can show up to shovel some soil, nail a few pieces of lumber together, sow some seeds or hold a hose, you are a help. If all you have is the time to put a few ideas in an email, send them along and say, I believe in this and these are my thoughts, that is also enough and in fact, all that is needed too.
Again, to my Wonder Twin Merrill, who will read this at some point one day, on behalf of all the seeds we’ve planted together, times we’ve watered those seeds in the moonlight and fruits of our labour we’ve harvested,I truly love, honour and am so grateful for you!