Planting A Garden Took Self Care To New Level

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Plant Based Advocate LA Dunn
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Plant Based Advocate, LA Dunn

Self care is more than just a buzz word these days. Before the pandemic, I had boundaries. Way back in 2019, we had rules about screen time. The day ended at five and weekends were meant for family activities. I made spa appointments and nights out with my girlfriends were always on the agenda. Since being locked down, I have been stressed. My husband and I split the living room into two separate offices and spent days sitting in our desk chairs with eyes barely leaving the computer for a warm air kiss or wink hello. More than a year of working from home had taken a toll on me. Not just mentally but physically for sure. I needed a pick me up.

Urban Gardening To The Rescue

Woman smelling the scent of tomato plant
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A Great Sense of Peace

As spring rolled around and we oddly acknowledged the one year anniversary of our house arrest, I was weary. I’d been enjoying remixing recipes and making random Instagram reels but I was missing something. I had lots of self care options including learning to knit, practicing yoga and even learning to bake sour dough bread. But I wasn’t really inspired. Then out of nowhere, I got an email from the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. The Stone Barns Center or SB as it is affectionally called, invited me to create a garden at home. All I had to do was get there to pick up plants and seeds and make sure I had somewhere to plant them. I have zero gardening experience yet, I felt excited about being able to grow my own food.

So How Many Garden Beds Do We Need?

The Stone Barns Center is not far from us and it really is a gorgeous site. A former dairy farm turned working farm and restaurant, the greenhouse is a must see for anyone curious about how it all comes together. We met the innovator, Jack Algiere. He is legendary and for almost twenty years has served as farm director, visionary and change agent. Jack made it sound so easy but we blinked hard when we discovered that we would be planting three kinds of onions, three kinds of carrots, potatoes, radishes, kohlrabi, broccoli rabe, mustard and collard greens, turnips and a variety of greens including chicory and arugula. So how many garden beds did we get? Eight! And did I mention that they aren’t just waiting for you at the local nursery, Lowes or Home Depot? We had to order them and put them together. It was hilarious!

Plant based advocate LA Dunn and Jack Algier of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
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Jack Algiere and LA at Stone Barns

Self Care Through Planting

LA Dunn with a plate of carrots, beets and mixed spring greens from her garden
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A Spring Mix of Greens Fresh From the Garden

I never imagined that planting a garden would be considered an act of self care. Planting was peaceful and relaxing. Yes, we had to build our elevated garden beds but we laughed the whole time. Once we figured out how much soil, compost and peat moss we wanted in each one, the rest was easy. My husband and I discussed our layout plan and it felt good to talk about something else other than the vaccine. I started humming as I planted what would soon become my very own spring mix. Mornings start early so that I can meditate and water the garden. I speak to each vegetable and thank them for their presence and the nutrition they will bring my family.

Working from home is still hectic. Between ordering groceries, home schooling, walking the dog and doing all the things we do to keep our lives going, I’m really grateful that my garden is always waiting for me.

LA Dunn is a plant based advocate who is now officially an urban gardener. Stay connected by signing up below. If you have 20 minutes, listen to an episode of The Black Girls Eat Podcast or visit the online shop to buy some merch.

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