As I glance upon the transition I made from California to Maryland, to Jersey, and now back to California, the hardest of these adjustments came as the one I least expected. I thought moving home would be smooth and simple, something I was used to and I had missed. I remember laboring over the decision to move. I had a wonderful house to live in with a greenhouse and farm in my backyard. I had an incredible housemate and friend, I had all my junior farmers that worked in Eve’s Garden with me daily. I had two awesome cats, great neighbors, and weather that I loved. I had finally experienced all four seasons, and what a miraculous experience that was. I had a good job, I loved the kids I nannied and I still find myself talking about those two rascals quite often. Last year, when I was diagnosed with stage one cancer and shortly after, my father had a heart attack, it really had me reevaluate being such a long ways away from home. It wasn’t until October that I finally made the decision to leap. What a long leap that was, nearly 2,800 miles worth of leap. I thought it was going to be easy. I thought wrong.
It took me about three months to fully adjust to being in my new yet old surroundings. Everything and everyone had changed, including myself. It seemed to me that not only did things and people change physically, but biologically, emotionally, spiritually, everything I had once known and called home had evolved, as I did. Things were not the same. I was uncomfortable. I wrestled with making the right decision. I tried to go back. I did go back in my head. Transplanting was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
What does this have to do with community gardening? As I notice those around me in the garden, the people that have rented plots, I realize that many of these people, my neighbors, have transplanted from native lands. Whether it be Russia, Armenia, Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, Guatemala, Austria, New Zealand, or Zimbabwe, my neighbors are in a foreign land. They come to the garden with hearts full of the weight of their immigrant life. Yet they come. We share, we smile, we commune over various foods and stories of farms in their native lands. Guermillo likes to speak of his family in Honduras and the tropical farming he did there. He has a banana tree in his plot. Stephan talks of the frost and indoor growing he and his family would do in Germany. Stephan and his wife Tatiyana have tomatoes and all sorts of herbs growing in their plot.
Last month I planted some vegetables from the Solanaceae family in little containers with a woman named Lucy. She’s a neighbor of mine in Hollywood whose loves to garden. This week, the peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes were large enough to transplant into the community garden. I wonder if it is as shocking for plants to move from the only place they’ve known to a different land of different soil. I suppose this is why we must “shock” the plants by overwatering before we transplant them. In general, I think transplanting is a difficult process, but like the tomatoes and peppers, Stephan, Guermillo, and I have managed to find a way, to find peace, and to thrive among our surroundings.
Someone once told me, home is where my toothbrush is. I am beginning to learn that home is where I make it. So if you haven’t already transplanted your seedlings, begin that this week. Never transplant or water in the heat of the day. Your plants will thank you later for it.