In the south of Vietnam as we near the Cambodian border, near Than Cho there is Evergreen Island. A community of some 80 families who live in this Eco aware island without cars and roads. Each family gardening 2 hectares or so and producing sustenance for the family, cash for the community and crops that are ecologically sustainable using animal and vegetable waste for nutrients. All this might be some novel idea for a social experiment, however the island was a reminder and a nudge forward. Yes they have schools, they learn about living and enjoying life! These garden beds are trenched to preserve scarce water and create drainage in wet seasons. At the Last Door Keystone Gardens the planting beds are raised, arranged and drained for the same reasons. Vegetable and animal waste is composted for optimal nutrient values. A garden producing healthy food without the destruction of the nurturing Eco system. Rows of Corn are planted in May so that as grandfather Galer put it, “knee high by the Fourth of July” and corn will ripen in the growing season. Gardening at Keystone has not only produced healthy food but spiritually healthy and connected persons living in recovery.
The tools of Vietnamese gardening are set at angles we might not see as comfortable. Yet, at the Last Door Keystone Gardens each tool has a very specific task learned from gardeners who have worked the soil with love and compassion for the next generation.
Plastics and mulch are used interchangeably to preserve scarce moisture in the growin g season. At Keystone, right now over fifty flats of seedlings are growing into plants for the Last Door Keystone Gardens. It became really obvious that on Evergreen Island gardening was a 365 day a year activity. The seasons were all warm. Tomatoes in February. Eggplants right now! The expanded use of the greenhouse at Keystone and the careful timing of crop seedlings will help yield extended growing seasons were even sun soaking crops like peppers and egg-plants can be grown to maturity. A growing part of our gardening community at Last Door Keystone has been the addition of volunteers who are sharing their family skills and growing next generation love for the green earth.
You could walk in the Last Door Keystone gardens and see attention to detail, you could see love of all things growing and you could see clients stretching their city hands into the living green earth. The walk in the gardens would also reveal creative borrowing from the best gardens in the world. Growing Kale borrowed from Holland. Growing Garlic with the guidance of the best seed cropper in the Oknanogan Valley. Pepper propagation built on commercial practices in the Fraser Valley and field growth based on the plantations in Italy and Vietnam. Eggplants grown in beds like the gardens of Italy. Raised beds created by trenching drainage as the Italians, Dutch and Vietnamese have modelled for generations. Reclaiming the land for every generation. Seeds are more than tiny future plants. Seeds are ideas. Our friend at West Coast Seeds taught us to prune onion seedlings for larger onions. As you spend time in the Last Door Keystone Gardens you will not only get involved in healing and recovery but you will also learn how in the world we dare grow our own food. You could begin to nurture your future and our future. Sowing seeds of hope for persons in Recovery.