By Shane King
Quesada Gardens has gone through many changes over the years. But one constant has been the great feeling newcomers get when they first hear the Quesada Gardens’ story and then get to do some work in the place they just learned about. On Sunday, November 22nd, two great relationships between the Quesada Gardens’ community and outside organizations were forged.
It took months of back and forth with various groups to settle on dates and times and tasks that would work for everyone. But now new volunteers have been oriented to the project and are eager to come back and help.
Event planning included Craig Cannon’s renting of a truck that would take debris to the dump multiple times during the day.
The work party started as they have for over a decade now: neighbors and visitors meeting in front of Jeffrey’s house. Craig, Liz Skow, Shane King and Jeffrey Betcher talked with young people from the Student Conservation Association. Three high school students and two youth leaders arrived in the pouring rain, heard a bit about the history and mission of QGI, grabbed tools and got to work. It felt a little crazy to be working in the middle of one of the hardest rains we’ve had this year, but everyone was willing and, in fact, worked really hard.
The first task was to load the pile of debris that has been sitting across from Lisa’s house for the past eight months. Then we set our sights on the Founder’s Garden at the top of the hill wanting to give it the love it’s been needing. The pounding rain finally stopped about an hour into the work, and we could take off our hoods and see how much we’d gotten done.
Volunteers in Founder’s Garden. Photo: Jim Gatteau
Carlos Davilla joined us at the top of the hill where we finished loading up the truck and then said goodbye to our first group of volunteers for the day.
Craig, Carlos and Shane headed off to the dump and unloaded a very packed truck before returning to the gardens just in time to meet our second group of volunteers. The group is known as “Blue,” a Palo Alto/Oakland-based set of families with a deep commitment to community and service. It included about 30 people, ages 1 to 60, each as hard-working as the last.
|Shane King tells a story to a group of volunteers from Palo Alto known as “Blue.” Photo: Carlos Davilla|
Their eyes lit up when they heard the Quesada Gardens’ story, and most of them gravitated towards the dirtiest, most difficult tasks of weeding and pruning in the Founder’s Garden. These people seemed determined to do hard work, and thrilled to have had the chance to work outside for the greater good.
Along with these amazing volunteer groups, neighbors Jeffrey Betcher, Shane King, Carlos Davilla, Craig Cannon, Liz Skow and Danny Kim with his intrepid kids DJ and Emma accomplished Herculean tasks:
- We took two truckloads to the dump for a total of 1800 pounds.
- We filled 38 tall compost bags for DPW to pick up.
- We filled two larger garbage bags with bottles, shoes, litter and other junk.
- We disposed of one huge, unsightly pile of debris.
- We introduced 35 people to the inspiring story of what a community with unity and purpose can do.
- We renewed our faith in humanity after what was, for many of us, a very disappointing election.
Our next scheduled big volunteer day will be March 4th with a group from Habitat for Humanity.
Look for another group, ARC, in the garden, too. These folks have been coming every Thursday, and have been planting native plants and other vegetables and flowers across from 1771 Quesada.