Leaving the La Plant garden in the beginning of September goes against all my food-growing instincts and experience. We waited months and braved the colder temperatures to see the first flush of tomatoes, peppers, carrots, an overabundance of greens and bees finally enjoying the sunflowers. On most farms, September is the month when the weeds stop being as crazy, the harvest is plentiful yet manageable, and you complain only slightly less. So, closing the latch on the garden gate for the final time felt sudden and an odd way to pause a blossoming relationship.
But, I knew this would be the case when I arrived in South Dakota in April and the time spent there would be finite, so I shouldn't have been so unprepared. The newness of the garden - expanding and creating a micro-farm of sorts, developing food and garden programs, and nurturing an environment that fosters participation among members of the town - made leaving that much more abrupt. We just seemed to be hitting our stride and people started showing up more regularly, yet I had one foot out the door.
My coworkers have been doing this for years and are a bit more seasoned at these transitions, but they agree it's never easy to pack up and leave for an extended period of time. I'm proud of all the work we did at the Community Center this year and the relationships we've deepened. I'm beyond thrilled that the garden is what it is after a short season and that it's in fully capable hands. I'm all the more eager to return to La Plant to get growing again. But, this experience is shaping up to be an invaluable lesson for me in letting go, albeit temporarily, and allowing the garden and its keepers the space and time to learn, flourish and thrive.
(1) The sunset after the storm. (2) (3) A passing of the guard. (4) The first horseshoe toss on the new pit! (5) Sunflowers in bloom. (6) Horseshoes. (7) Pitching at sunset. (8) Hay on a cloudy day. (9) Prairie blazingstar. (10) My boss, a former pro rock climber, on the roof of the new house we built. (11) Shadows of the trusses. (12) Wild sunflowers at the Missouri River. (13) Moon. (14) Wild plums. (15) The garden in it's glory! (16) Buzzing bees.