Monday, July 16, 2012

Bountiful Brookline teams Steps for Success students with local gardeners

In her Steps for Success adult English Language Learner course, instructor Bambi Good assigned Seedfolks , Paul Fleishman’s popular collection of stories about people who transformed an abandoned inner-city lot into a community garden. Continuing with the growing theme, Bountiful Brookline helped Bambi match her students with Brookline gardeners to practice using English in interviews. They wrote up their interviews, which were exhibited at the final celebration of the Steps for Success E.L.L. year. Following are two of the interview write-ups.

An Interview with Patrick

by Gayane Grigorian

On a Friday in April I had a very important interview with gardener Patrick Gabridge. I say without any irony and humor it was an unique experience for me meeting with an American person, where I couldn't use assistance of dictionaries, our teacher Bambi, classmates or my relatives.  I connected with "my gardener" through his E-mail. My daughter in law commented, "It is a rendezvous.”  I replied: "Don't worry. I go together with my husband who will take photos and protect me.”
The night before my interview I slept badly, but we were on time. When we met Patrick it seemed to us that we knew him a long time. He was an absolutely frank and positive person.

The name of his garden is "Two Hundred Foot Flat." It is at Brookline Village near Kent Street and close to Patrick's home.  Patrick showed us his garden and told us that here once was a dirty, trashful strip of earth.  He wanted to clean it and to make this site useful for people.  During our interview Patrick told me, "Winn Management owns this land and allows me to use it. My garden is four years old. When I was a child my mom had a fine vegetable garden, which I helped her with. Now I grow these vegetables, which are useful: cucumber, potato, tomato, snow peas, butternut squash, basil, kale and Swiss chard... I use only organic methods, because I look up to "healthy food.  I share my harvest with anyone who wishes in the days of sharing.  It is pleasant for me and helpful for others.  I take only a tiny part of it for myself. The best thing about working in a garden is sharing.”

In meeting Patrick, we met one more fair, noble-minded person in America.

Meeting Gretchen
Yuki Zhao

Gretchen is a young woman gardener who has two kids. When I met her, my first impression of her was healthy skin, a broad smile and kinetic energy. She is a really charming person.

Gretchen’s hometown is Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up on her grandmother’s big farm, but now she is living in a Brookline apartment with no outdoor space. Because Gretchen was eager to find a space to garden somewhere close by, she went to the Garden Sharing Workshop at Bountiful Brookline’s “Spring into Gardening” event where she met Peggy. Peggy is a garden mentor who wanted to share her garden with someone. Gretchen not only got an opportunity to garden, but also started to know more of her neighbors.

Because this is an organic garden and no chemicals are allowed, they set up a home compost. Many kinds of vegetables, fruits and herbs were planted in the garden. Eggplants, lettuce, kale, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, fava beans and strawberries were in the back yard garden, and flowers and all kinds of squashes were in the front yard.

Gretchen told me her favorite vegetable was peppers. She likes spicy food, such as Chinese Spicy Hot Curd. What a coincidence! That is my favorite food, too. And even more amazing thing was that she was an English teacher in the Dalian Institute of Technology in China when she was 20 years old. My husband graduated from the same college. After the talk, I felt some wonderful relationship between us.

I hope I can try to do gardening in the near future. Next week I will try to do Chinese Spicy Hot Bean Curd for our English class party. This should go without saying, I will invite Gretchen to join us.