Yes, Love’s In Need Of Love Today and A Little R-E-S-P-E-C-T Too!

Today’s blog is about an unfortunate event at the garden.  After spending several days carefully tending and planting the garden, much to our surprise and dismay somebody or “somebodies” vandalized the garden.  The stakes where the pole beans had been planted were removed, some of the melon sets, tomato plants, potatoes and more were pulled out of the ground and even some of the flowers were victimized.  I had hoped that with this year’s process of presenting the program throughout the school we would have mitigated any problems from the uninvolved.  Unfortunately things have not worked out as planned.  And though, all of us older than 13 were very disappointed, our greatest collective fear was how would our young gardeners react.  Every child, from the oldest to the youngest, was extremely disappointed.  They were hurt…they felt violated…they felt disrespected…they felt betrayed…by the unnamed, invisible vandals that they were pretty sure were some of the kids in the neighborhood.  Not knowing did not stop the cries for justice and proper punishment of the perpetrators of destruction.

As the kids walked around inspecting, commenting and cleaning up the mess,  the scene became like a movie to me and underneath the chatter I thought I heard the opening strains of the Stevie Wonder song, “Love’s In Need of Love Today” (Songs In The Key of Life).  As I watched the kids, I believe I heard…

It’s that, Love’s in need of love today

Don’t delay

Send yours in right away

Hate’s goin’ round

Breaking many hearts

Stop it please

Before it’s gone too far”

Word by word, verse by verse the lyrics and melody played in my head.  I was nearly moved to tears as I watched and listened to some of the comments made by some of the kids…

DeLana R.

“I feel mad because all of that work went to waste and I was really looking forward to raising some tomatoes.  I really wanted to take some home and make salads.”

Isaac

“I feel mad because somebody picked out our vegetables.  Now we have to put more vegetables in like peppers.  I have fun when I plant something in the dirt and when it grows…water it good.” 

Dejahnique R.

“I feel like no one cares how hard people work on stuff and they just mess their stuff up.  They would not like it if other people messed their stuff up.  They would be mad if someone messed their stuff up.  Someone should catch them and follow them home and mess their stuff up and then see how they feel.” 

Fortunately we had the ability to restock and replenish the young garden.  And even though our neighborhood pests, of the two-legged variety, hit us again, we remain steadfast and undaunted. 

This show will go on regardless and we expect to have a fantastic yield.  These kids…these Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners…don’t quit!  And perhaps it’s true that we won’t let them quit either.  But the fact is more kids are coming out every day, which is such a positive sign.  We have more friends out there than enemies.  We now have to turn them away.  Most of which are the younger brother or sister of one of the older gardeners.  I think it’s great that we are establishing a “farm system” for our urban farm.  Great things and positive experiences are on the horizon!

So by the end of the day and for every day since then I’ve heard a different Stevie Wonder song, and it is…

“As”

As around the sun the earth knows she’s revolving

And the rosebuds know to bloom in early May

Just as Hate knows Love’s the cure

You can rest your mind assure

That these kids will be lovin’ their garden…Always!

YessirreeBob!  They will be lovin’ it…

Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky—ALWAYS

Until the ocean covers every mountain high—ALWAYS

Until the dolphin flies and parrots live ay sea—ALWAYS

Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream

ALWAYS…Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners and all of us, near or far, that support the garden,  will always be there.  The kids didn’t give up.  After the clean up, they proceeded with the rest of their duties and the initial frustration they felt, later turned to  moments of outright joy.  They enjoy it that much.  Yeah, they got knocked down…we all did.  But, we got right back up…dusted ourselves off and got right back at.  These kids don’t need love…cause they got love…on the corner of Russell and Lantz streets at the Nolan School Garden.

Addendum

As the final touches were being made to this post we were again attacked by what I can only hope were teenage vandals for the third time.  For an adult to do this would be unthinkable.  This time it was, in a word…vicious and the emotional impact was, as you’d expect, damaging. So as we were cleaning things up and already in the process of replacing some of what that had been destroyed, we collectively began to sing…

We shall overcome,

We shall overcome,

We shall overcome someday,

Oh deep in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome someday!

I concluded the original draft of this post by saying the kids didn’t need “outside” love because they had their own love at the garden.  I am compelled to end it now by summarizing what all the kids said after the first attack and have been saying ever since…Respect Me…Respect Us…Respect What I Am Doing…This Is Mine…I Will Not Let You Take This Away From Me!

“Love’s In Need of Love Today” and “As” were written by Stevie Wonder
“We Shall Overcome” was written by Pete Seger
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7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Bonnie Odom-Brown said,

    Thanks Arthur for a beautiful but sad article.

    This last act of cruelty at the garden really hit me hard. I spend many many hours coordinating the garden activities; transporting water and dirt, getting juice, snacks and water for the kids, lining up volunteers to help, and devoting my time to providing this positive activity for the youth of Nolan School community. I do it partly to give back to a school that both of my children attended. But I also do it because I have seen the joy in the kids eyes when they realize that someone really cares enough to provide for them this positive opportunity to learn about where their food comes from. That it doesn’t all come from fast food restaurants, it is really tasty and good for their bodies.

    When I saw the mess left behind by the senseless killing of the beautiful tomato, cabbage, and squash plants, I confess it brought me to tears. Not only for myself but because I fear that the kids will want to give up.

    It makes me angry that there are those out there who want nothing for themselves and try to prevent others from having anything. Yes, I cried but then my resolve returned and I said to myself, Bonnie, you cannot let a few bad apples spoil the whole barrel for these precious kids. So as Arthur said, I will continue to be there and I hope more adults will join with me, Arthur, Maura, the volunteers and our Nolan Fierce Gardeners in showing the negative forces around us that we will prevail.

  2. 3

    Nancy said,

    In everything there is a Lesson of what to do and what not to do..You know that the planters of that garden will never do something like that ….if they ever catch the vandals their punishment should be to do the whole garden over again…bet they’d think twice about doing that again…gardening gives you a certain spirit not found anywhere else..and the gardeners have it…and I’d call that a head start..You will overcome.

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