For the longest time, my husband and I have had an interest in learning about growing our own food. We don’t have a huge backyard where we could plant a garden, but we’ve thought about getting raised beds to give it a try. But before we spend time and money, we thought it would be best to learn from someone who knows about farming. Enter Urban Paradise Guild.
This not-for-profit organization was founded to bring natural habitat back to the places where we live. On their website they write “Our city was Paradise before it was paved. With enough dedicated effort we can transform it into Urban Paradise, where the human and natural worlds blend more harmoniously.”
We found out about the organization when we participated in the March Against Monsanto last May (Listen to our event wrap-up on the podcast here). Sam Leer, the head of the program, spoke at the after party and after learning about all of the cool things they’re doing in parks all across Miami, we decided to volunteer.
On Sunday morning, we showed up at Amelia Earhart Park at 8:45am to be greeted by Sam. Our friends Eddy & Katrina joined us which made the day even better. P.S. Volunteering with friends rocks. P.P.S. We were the oldest volunteers. P.P.P.S. Laughter ensued.
One of UPG's long-term goals is to plant a bunch of family gardens to help feed low income families living in apartments in the surrounding communities. Our job that day was to get started on the very first family garden for an Urban Paradise Guild staffer, JeanFrantz. He selected the seeds and plants from the UPG Nursery and Seed Bank ahead of time and it was our job to get planting!
Alex and I had never done anything like this before and we were too excited to get our hands dirty and learn about growing food. We planted a few seeds of corn and Alex planted a dill plant. Sam took the time to show us around and explain what they'd done thus far. Already in the surrounding areas they had turmeric, yucca, peppers, okra and more growing. I’m very ignorant when it comes to what certain plants look like and/or how things actually grow. Sam showed us what a yucca plant looks like and I thought it was a papaya tree! I have lots to learn…
I’m not a huge fan of creepy crawlers so when we were cleaning up some mulch and came across a centipede, I did get a little freaked out but I was also amazed to see it up close and personal. There was even an iguana that one of the volunteers captured that was eating all of the plants. To be surrounded by so much life reminded me that I’m apart of something so much greater than the world I create in my head. When you’re out in the sun, getting some Vitamin D and connecting with the Earth, there’s a sense of alignment in the body. I believe that we are meant to give to this planet (and each other) as much as it gives to us every single day. And I do believe that I’ve found the perfect way to do just that by volunteering with the Urban Paradise Guild.