By Danielle Hazan, Mitzvah Corps New Orleans 2016 Participant
I’m not a gardener, and I have never been. If my parents ask me to help them outside, I try to avoid it. I don’t find planting rewarding, nor do I enjoy the time I spend doing it. It’s nice for the area to look pretty afterward, but the beauty isn’t permanent. Every year you have to redo the garden, replant, and weed.
It all felt different with NOLA Green Roots at the Wise Words Garden though. Today, I got to garden and plant, but it was more than that. Although an added bonus, we weren’t working and cleaning the area to make it look nice; we did it to help people. The seeds that we planted will eventually become vegetables that are given away to people in need of some help. We got to make a permanent difference that you don’t get to see with everyday planting at your house.
Brock, a face behind NOLA Green Roots, inspired the difference that I got to feel. He is a volunteer who runs the garden and dedicates much of his time to helping people. Sitting on the benches in the back of the garden, he shared his wisdom with us and put what we were doing in perspective. Fifteen of us sat there and listened while he told us the impact we had made, solely based on our two hours of gardening. We planted 1,008 seeds, saving over $3,000 that would have been spent on plants. Because of the small amount of time we put in, we saved money that will allow people to now be able to eat, and do so healthfully.
On the rare occasion I garden at home, I never get the same feeling I got today. Getting to plant vegetables that will help people survive, or even just get by another day, makes the difference that we all hope is possible. Everyday chores that we do can be changed and modified to help others. But, if we all don’t have food to donate, there is something we all can give, and that’s time. Just as we showed by giving two hours of our time here, we did more than just a few people could do through monetary donations. By addressing the problem in a different way, we were able to see how we can make the largest difference for people around us.