I don't usually write about the Master Gardener meetings, although it is a group that I'm pretty passionate about, and quite active with. Tonight's meeting, though, had a great energy about it, which came almost as a surprise to me. Since I'm in charge of booking programs for the monthly meetings, and spent almost 30 years as a caterer and event planner, it's rare that I'm surprised like that.
Instead of our usual meeting space, we met in the "shed" at a large vegetable garden (about 7 acres in total). The property is owned by a retired developer, and it's where he and many of his friends garden, simply for the love of gardening. Most of them are executives in varying stages of their careers, one is the County Manager; in the garden, though, they are all equals. The garden is a really special place in and of itself, since these guys can't possibly use the volume of food they produce; as a result, virtually anyone can come and do "chores" for a few hours just once, or they can come back whenever they want just to help in the garden. They are encouraged to take whatever produce they can realistically use for their families, and the balance of the crops are donated to soup kitchens, senior housing buildings, the Boys and Girls Clubs, etc.,etc.
The meeting program was pretty loose, and since it was literally 96 degrees when the meeting started, I expected there to be a fairly small turnout. Boy, was I surprised! By the time the meeting was underway, we had at least 60 people there, all sweating like beasts, fanning ourselves with leftover paper fans from a County event in 2007. All of this in a cinder block building in the middle of a field, with old fashioned fly paper hanging over our heads.
As dusk fell, we strolled the acres of gardens, petted the burros (and one orphaned deer fawn) they raise, pulled peanuts from the ground, and ate cherry tomatoes off the vines. There was no pretense, there were no discussions of the proper way to prune, there was no plant snobbery. It was simply a great evening in the middle of the vegetables for a group of friends who love to garden.
The heat lightning off in the distance as we wrapped up the event was the perfect end to the evening. There really is a magic in gardens.