This article was written by Luis Jimenez as part of his English 2010 service learning class. Thanks Luis for volunteering and sharing your story.
When I first heard my English class, and I would be working in the garden my first initial thought was “Well that’s Ironic I came to school to ditch working in the fields and look at me now.” I only thought that way because of my background growing up with my grandma. She is from Honduras and had a tough upbringing from living in poverty to migrating as an immigrant to the United States. I always looked at gardening as something my grandma made me do to teach me discipline. I never understood why she liked it so much; I understood the living in poverty part and having to eat to survive but why would someone do this as a hobby. I’m familiar with working hard. As a student I currently work in a foundry where we work anywhere from 50 to 55 hours a week then come home and make dinner for my 12-year-old daughter. So, the thought of getting off work to go to school and garden for an English class was a bit tiring just thinking about it.
On my first day of gardening, I walked into the garden and said to myself “I’m going to have an open mind about this and make the most of it.” As we introduced ourselves and the gardening activity progressed, we received our direction from Austin and Boston, which was to lay down some mulch and rake up the beds (I had no idea what that meant). I got to work and what felt like a few short minutes turned out to be an hour. And our professor was telling us to pack it up because we had to go into the classroom. I was amazed at how fast the time went; I was so engaged in what I was doing in the garden that the time just flew by. I went home that night and shared that experience with my daughter and pondered on my experience how calm, soothing, and peaceful it was. For those few minutes in the garden, I didn’t think about the everyday stresses of life, I wasn’t worried about bills, school, work, or anything else but being in the garden. As my journey in the garden continued, I went from having not a single plant in my house to buying my first tomato plant (still alive by the way).
As my journey in the garden continued, I started realizing that gardening had many similarities to my personal life. The garden requires hard work, patience, and discipline to see growth. The plants require the right environment and need to be nourished and taken care of. We needed to weed out the bad weeds that took away energy and nutrients from the plants for the plants to thrive. My experience with gardening made me curious about the effects of gardening on mental health (I eventually focused my paper on the effects of Gardening on recidivism). I read articles from the Mayo clinic stating that gardening had healing properties for both mind and body, I then ran in to a video on YouTube titled "Can meditation and Gardening Break the cycle of recidivism?” Where an incarcerated individual mentioned that pruning plants was special to him because it symbolized removing unneeded and unwanted thoughts from his life to help him grow. Consider this blog as your personal invitation to your own gardening experience brought to you by the UVU GRIT Garden.