Building Community in a Garden

By Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light

Do you "love" your smartphone? How about your computer or high-tech gaming system? Do you still feel lonely and isolated even with all of the high-tech gadgets money can buy? You're not alone. Too much social media can actually make us feel more lonely, not less!

While our modern age of electronics has given us the ways and means to communicate instantly across the planet, it's difficult for many of us to forge deep, trusting bonds with people over the internet. A smart phone can't give us a shoulder to cry on when we need one.

While an online friend in another country may offer you moral support when you're going through a tough time, he or she just cannot deliver the face time (and hugs!) many of us need during those rough patches we all experience. We've developed amazing technological tools to communicate across great distances but at a human level, more of us seem to feel the sting of isolation and loneliness than ever before.

Technology isn't going to solve this problem all on its own. I believe that the solution lies in creating more face-to-face connections; forming opportunities for like-minded and like-hearted people to come together for a common purpose. During my NDE, my heavenly guide spoke at length about the importance of forging in-person bonds with other people. The Mayo Clinic agrees with her.

Some of these opportunities already exist in our religious and spiritual institutions, hobby-based clubs, or even in sports teams (think of all those after work softball or football clubs). But can we create additional opportunities that encourage even more people to get out of the house and truly connect with others?

Yes, we can, and one way is through the new trend of creating community gardens.

What is a community garden? A community garden is a shared plot of land in a neighborhood where individuals and families can rent space for the purposes of growing vegetables, fruits, and flowers. The food grown may stay within the family, or in some gardens a portion may be donated to local food banks, homeless shelters, or other charities. Community gardens give folks in urban areas the chance to reap all of the benefits of growing their own food AND connecting with other people at the same time.

I recently joined a community garden that was the brainchild of two engineers working for a local technology company. Their idea was to not only provide a space for company employees and the community to come together and bond over plants, but also to raise food to donate to local food banks. This was the humble start to the DuPont Community Garden.

When I joined, I pledged to donate at least half of my produce to local charities. No problem. I usually grow much more food than I and my daughter can eat anyway. But at the time I signed that agreement I didn't realize the benefits that I would receive back: bonds of friendship with other people in the spirit of service makes my heart feel good. Growing food to help others who are less fortunate helps me feel like I am contributing to the community in a very tangible way. Spending time with people from all faiths, all backgrounds, and a diversity of ethnic heritages gives me hope that humanity really can come together in peaceful, beneficial ways. And of course, getting out of the house and digging in the dirt brings a sense of peace and calm to my day that is difficult to find anywhere else.

Our little community garden isn't so small: over 50 families rent space here to grow food and flowers. Some folks, like Grubir and Stu, are the heart and soul of the space. For many other longtime members the garden is a place to socialize, plan outings, and share ways to deal with slugs and other challenges. For me, it warms my heart to see so many diverse families coming together to help those less fortunate in the Tacoma area. I see the field of Divine Love growing stronger around our little garden here at the edge of Puget Sound.

If you'd like to follow our progress at the garden, or maybe find out how you can start one of your own, come join us on Facebook, or on our blog. I've volunteered to maintain our garden blog and I promise of season of fun, informative articles including what to do with all of those zucchini!

If you're in the area and would like to stop by for a garden tour, just let me know and I'll put you in touch with Grubir or Stu. They're the PR guys and love to show folks what we're creating :-)

Wishing you heavenly love,