When we moved to Hawaii one of the first things I did was to look up the local community garden. I went to the garden and found a member who was tending her plot. She kindly invited me in and gave me a tour. It was then I learned of my first new tropical plant, Longevity spinach. I attended a meeting within my first month on island and signed up to become a member.
Excitedly I began preparing the soil and planting newly acquired seeds and seedlings. After all, I had experience and with these particular plants before in Arkansas. I toiled in the dirt and proudly tended to my plants. Yet after months of effort, I was left with little harvest and mostly pest eaten plants.
Disappointed, I planned and diagramed my plot and went at it again. This time with a little more success but equal amounts of failure. I began cultivating community relationships with other gardeners who generously shared seeds and plants with me. I realized that I had went about it all wrong. First, I needed to learn what varieties of plants grew successfully in our microclimate on O’ahu. This would allow me to maximize my efforts. While I might want the cucumber I was accustomed to enjoying, I needed to broaden my horizons to new plants in my diet.
It turns out anything in the squash or cucumber family wouldn’t produce due to an infestation of fruit flies in the garden. I needed to observe the successes of other gardeners and adjust my expectations of what to grow. Two and a half years later, VICTORY! I have a variety of plants growing: sweet potatoes, moringa, guava, Asian wing bean, papalo, pigeon pea, kale, chilis, okra, turmeric, papaya and even pineapple. Much of the plants have climatized so well. They don’t require the level of effort or water as my plot did at the start of 2018.
I realize that the joy I experience in the garden has been mostly due to others generously sharing their knowledge and resources with me. If I hadn’t been willing to learn from others or adapt my eating habits to this new variety of plants I had not heard of before, I would have given up. Instead, I have found the garden to be awe-inspiring and a source of comfort during the pandemic. I have sat in the shade of the papaya or pigeon pea to write in my journal admiring the plant life around me. Listening to the sounds of birds and wind in the leaves.
During life-changing times, I want to be able to willingly and happily change to the circumstance. Only then can I have the intention to focus on helping others.