Posts tagged Nolan Elementary School

EEEEEEEEEEEEEECH I’ve Got Dirt Under My Nails!

A dramatization?

I know what you’re thinking, that title must be an exaggeration, surely I have had dirt under my nails a thousand times.  You see that statement wasn’t made by me.  It was made by this 8-year-old diva on opening day of Nolan Elementary Middle School’s Planting The Seeds Garden.  Maybe for you to fully understand I should start at the beginning.

Saturday

Bonnie Odom-Brown (BE Culturally Exposed), Maura Ryan-Kaiser (Snelling Staffing Services) and I were working to get the garden and the beds ready for the first garden club meeting/workday the following Tuesday.  We were all so excited as the garden had taken on an added dimension with the addition of six new beds.  Because of the tenderness of several of our young transplants we had to plant several plants so all the kids would have to do was seed on our inaugural day.

Maura and I had our annual discussion about my Type-A personality style of gardening as she planted things in her usual “helter-skelter” style (oh how frustrating!).  What do you say when somebody says “Oh Poo!” to your argument that is loaded with facts.  Facts like:

  1. Plants will grow straighter and stronger if they are in nice neat rows.
  2. Give all plants sufficient space to grow to their maximum expected size.
  3. The garden is easier to weed when it is structured and organized.
  4. A structured and organized garden is prettier and more impressive.
  5. Plants are more productive.

Yes I had my reasons and they were all good, but all I could get from her in return was “Such Piffle!”

So I couldn’t hide my joy…my glee…my hysteria when I was told I would be in charge of the first club meeting.  I, Arthur Littsey, was going to be in charge.  I was King Arthur!  I was Gen. Douglas MacArthur!  I was President Chester Arthur!  Look at me Ma, I’m on top of the world!  I was going to whip these young fertile minds into shape.  They would find it was a lot of fun to be structured and disciplined…to stand up straight, head up and chin high.  I knew that this was what they not just needed but what they desired.  I was in control…they knew it…and they were going to be happy about that.  Did I say “happy”…they were going to be THRILLED!

Tuesday

I woke up early Tuesday morning to prepare for my day of leadership at the garden.  I had laid out my clothing, and set out my tools, seeds, the kid’s gloves and supplies.  It was going to be a great day!  The sun was shining high in the sky…no clouds…not even a hint of rain…it was perfect.

I got to the school right on time, reported to the teacher, Ms. Carrie Hahn, and proceeded out to the garden to get things ready.  Right on time, Ms. Hahn brought the students out and that was my first surprise.  These were not the kids from last year.  Last year’s kids were almost teenagers, that difficult stage.  I am not saying that they were bad kids because they definitely were not, but they didn’t always seem so eager to be out there.  If you’ve got kids you know what I mean.  There’s that look in their eyes or the body language that says so much yet reveals so little (especially if you don’t speak their language).  No, what I saw was 2 rows of seven to nine year olds, with big expressive eyes, mouths chattering non-stop that were totally geeked about working in the garden.  These were the new generation of Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners and before the day was over I was going to be able to tell you how geeked and fierce they truly were.

Of the 15 to 20 kids that were out there only one of them was a boy and he was quick to take notice of it and to let me know.  He wasn’t happy about it.  I wanted to take him aside and tell him how one day he would appreciate such an environment, but he wasn’t going to buy it, so I kept my mouth shut.  He wanted absolutely nothing to do with the girls so for the moment I had grown another appendage.

After our introductions and Ms. Hahn’s call to order, I was ready to start my planting lesson.  This was going to be sooooooo easy!  I had their rapt attention!  This was going to be so much better than last year!  Hahaha…in your face Ms. Maura!  I will show you and Ms. Bonnie, who’s the boss out here.  Here’s how the first 5 minutes (I think it was only 5) went:

Arthur/Me:  Okay kids, I am going to show you how to plant a garden.  To begin with you need two sticks and some string…

1st kid:  When can we plant some seeds?

Me:  You see we will use the string…

2nd kid:  I want to plant watermelon!

3rd kid:  Can I help?

1st kid:  Let me show you how to do it, my grandma has a garden at home!

Me:  It’s important to have straight rows, so we will use the string and sticks to…

2nd kid:  (Holding up a packet of seeds) Can I plant these seeds now?

1st kid:  I don’t think he knows what he is doing!

Me:  Okay, I want to show you how to plant a seed.  1st, you take your finger and poke it into the ground up the first joint of your finger…

1st kid:  Okay…here’s how to do it!  OH MY GOD…EEEEEEEEYAH…OH MY GOD…Eeeeeeeeeeech…I’ve got dirt under my nails…I’VE GOT DIRT UNDER MY NAILS!!!

And with that she started running around the garden, pigtails flapping, single finger held up pointing at the sky, screaming over and over she had gotten dirt under her nail acting like this was the first time that had ever happened.  WHAT WAS SHE GOING TO DO?  Was she going to have to wear a scarlet letter?  Call the Red Cross!  Looking back this was the very moment that I lost control but I didn’t know it yet.  I didn’t know but I would soon find out.

Hoping to regain their attention I said let’s plant a few seeds.  I asked the kids to pair up into small groups and I said very plainly, “We are going to plant one bed at a time with a different group of kids,” and with string and sticks in hand, I took one group off to plant radishes.  Bent over the raised bed, I got a pat on my back and one of the kids said, “I planted these seeds over there,” and he gestured in a non-directional way over his shoulder.  I didn’t see what seed package he was holding because first with my peripheral vision I saw kids running everywhere…from bed to bed…seed packs in their hands…planting seeds all willy-nilly!  There was no more talk of structure, discipline or orderly rows, these kids in their eagerness to get something in the ground had staged their own revolution as if they didn’t hear or care for my order and rules.

The lone boy in the group came up to me and quietly asked if he could plant something too.  He looked like a carrot type of boy so that’s what we started to plant.  I was going to let him plant the seeds until he shyly asked me if there were worms in the raised bed.  I looked him straight in the eyes and told him that there probably were worms in the bed.  His face went from glad to sad in a blink, so I asked him if he was afraid of worms?  Looking down at his feet he nodded his head yes and in one of those “awwwwww” moments, I told him my little secret that I wasn’t too fond of them little critters either.  His face lit up like a neon bulb.  No, he wasn’t alone with his fear.  If a big guy like Mr. Arthur was afraid of those dirty ol’ worms then it must be all right for him not to like them either.

So, just as we started planting the seeds, lo and behold the marines landed.  Not more adult help, but more kids…boys.  I suddenly felt like I had stepped on an ant hill.  Kids were coming at me from everywhere…on all sides.  Some were working but many of them were playing around.  The first group of kids had gotten into the seeds while the second bunch had gotten into the tool bag.  They were ARMED and DANGEROUS!  Mr. Arthur…Mr. Arthur…Mr. Arthur…Mr. Arthur, it was quadraphonic mayhem!  I was getting urgent calls from everywhere!  Can I plant this?  What are these?  I need to wash my hands, my momma doesn’t like for me to get my hands dirty (guess who said that one?).

The playground was spinning…my head was spinning!  Every time I thought I had one area under control, another fire would start some place else.  I couldn’t believe that only 20 minutes had gone by.  I had pits that you wouldn’t believe.  And then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere I heard a voice, “Alright children it’s time to go  back to the classroom!”  A heavenly voice of authority that wasn’t mine said, “All of my garden club students get in line.  The rest of you go back to your classes”.  I was saved.  Yes, there is a merciful God.  Hallelujah…Hallelujah…Hallelujah, it was over…finally over.  And just like that, like a sea storm, my ocean was calm.  The rebels were children again as they got in line and started to march inside the school.  As they got to the door they all turned back to say, “Thanks Mr. Arthur…we had a wonderful time!”  I believed they did!!!

I was pulling the hose out to water what had been planted (I didn’t know where to start really since nothing was marked) and a little voice spoke up behind me, “Can I wash my hands, I don’t think I will ever get them clean?”  I was so through…put a fork in me…I was done!!!

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Recipe and Cooking Techniques: Accordion Potatoes

Potatoes

This year at Nolan’s “Planting The Seeds” garden, we are growing two types of potatoes…Yukon Gold and Redskins.  Since it looks like it’s going to have a tremendous yield, we will need to find recipes that will help us to enjoy our bounty.  This recipe is from the pages of Food & Wine magazine and it promises to be as tasty as they all look.

Enjoy!

Accordion Potatoes

Prep: 20 minutes  Total Time: 60 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients

¼ cup plus 2 tbs.  Extra-virgin Olive Oil

1 tbs.  Pimenton de la Vera or Smoked Paprika

1 lb.  New fingerling potatoes

1 bunch Small fresh or dried Bay Leaves

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the pimenton or paprika.
  2. Using a sharp pairing knife, slice each potato crosswise at 1/8-inch intervals, cutting down but not all the way through the potato.  Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet.  Drizzle with 5 tbs. of the pimenton or paprika oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Roast the potatoes cut sides up for 20 minutes.  Insert one bay leaf into each potato and roast for 20 minutes longer until the potatoes are golden, crisp and cooked through.  Transfer the potatoes to a platter, discard the bay leaves, drizzle with the remaining 1 tbs. of pimenton/paprika oil and serve

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Unfinished Business – 4th Quarter 2012

Back towards the end of 2012 I decided I needed to take a break from publishing content about the garden and as a result I am a little backed up.  Yielding to the demands of my readers, associates, the school and my sponsors I am back at it, in full writing mode…the torch has been re-lit and my spirit burns to write again.  Actually, I have been kind of busy with getting several gardens going and executing a few projects for some of my other clients.  No drama…just the reality, lol!

So to bring everybody up to speed, here’s the QuickBooks version of what’s been taking place at the Nolan Elementary-Middle School Garden.

October

The garden was finally wrapping up.  The kids/students were coming every week to harvest their crops.  It was surprising how long we were able to harvest deep into the season and how great the yield was.  By the last week of October they got the last of the beans and had grown tired of the lettuce (which continued to grow until the first frost/snowfall).

DSCN0868[1] October Harvest 1

DSCN0865[1] October Harvest 2

DSCN0871[1] October Harvest October Harvest 3

DSCN0872[1] October Harvest 4

To celebrate our “survival” and our successes we had an awards breakfast at the Rescue Mission Restaurant in Highland Park.  It was a wonderful opportunity to thank the kids and their parents for their important contributions to the garden’s success.  The food was good and the mood was even better, as each child got a certificate commemorating their hard work and dedication throughout the summer.  They also received a small stipend courtesy of Bonnie Odom-Browns’ organization B.E. Culturally Exposed.

Planting The Seeds Certificate 2012

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 071

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 072

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 073

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 074

Our kids’ day was not over after the breakfast either.  After the meal they all hopped on a bus to go to Wizards Farm & Orchard, in Ypsilanti.

November

November was special because we opened a new partnership with the new administration of Nolan.  We were formally introduced to Mrs. Angela Underwood, the school principal and Ms. DeAndrea Rogers, the “Parent and Community Involvement Specialist”.  Both were highly enthused about the garden program and Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners.

We also received a generous donation of “garden pots” from Ms. June Axelrad (a vegetarian friend and supporter of the school garden).  Nolan as well as John R. King Academy received a donation of seeds from a variety of plants for the students to use in classroom projects.

December

It was Ho-Ho-Ho Merry Christmas for the kids as they were taken to lunch, bowling and to the movies as a Christmas present from B.E. Culturally Exposed and Maura Ryan-Kaiser, our sponsor, from Snelling Staffing Services.  As you can see the kids were having a marvelous time.

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 226

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 227

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 228

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 229

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 230

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 231

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 232

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 233

Bonnies Pictures 2012 and more 234

December was also a sad time because this was the last time that this group was to be together.  Some of them graduated and some moved away.  2013 will bring a totally new set of students/kids that will want to enjoy the gardening experience.  We will also be dealing with a new school administration that has promised us more support.  Lastly, there’s the new program, the School Garden Collaborative.  It looks it could be a big help to get more schools into urban gardening.  Expect to hear more about them later.

Goodbye 2012…Hello 2013!

Thanks again to our sponsors…

MIFCU logo and tagline 

Primary Sponsor

newSTAFFINGdiamondtop[1] 

 

Our Coordinator… 

Bonnie Odom-Brown – B.E. Culturally Exposed

dark_honey_bee_hemberger

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The End Of The Beginning – Moving Towards The End…Harvesting!

DSCN0839

Let me begin with saying “Thanks to all of you that have found the time to read our little blog”.  We have followers from all over the world and we appreciate the interest in our small and humble effort…the Planting The Seeds Garden, managed by Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners.  Our garden drives home the point that the other community gardeners are making here in Detroit and across the United States…through positive attitudes, healthy food can be an easy option in urban areas.  This is a throwback to the times, for most of our gardeners, of their grandparents and great aunts and uncles…for them easily a generation or two ago.  A time when the “village” raised the children…everybody’s children.

So what we have here is a series of pictures as we are starting to close down the garden in August, September and October.  The weather being what it was, the school garden had a very long run.  There was lettuce that was still growing in November (that was the last time I looked…who knows, it was probably still growing up to the snowfall right before Christmas).  I have often wondered how much the kids would have harvested if we hadn’t been vandalized twice.  Putting aside any negatives thoughts, when I look at these pictures I get a very warm feeling inside.  I know the effort it took for the garden to look like this…at any point, but especially at the time when the pictures were taken.  It’s not hard to go back to when it all started…the volunteer help we had on the very first day, the ongoing efforts of Snelling Staffing Services employee/volunteers, the guidance provided by the Greening of Detroit (Lindsay Pielack and her group), the financial and material support provided by Sandra Tomlin/Michigan First Credit Union and the leadership, drive and commitment of Bonnie Odom-Brown and Maura Ryan-Kaiser, BE Culturally Exposed and Snelling Staffing Services, respectively.  Even with all of this help, the kids put in a lot of hours over the summer and they deserved this outcome…nature, in all its splendour…God, in his Glory!  Say Amen!

One thing I must reveal is that there are just a few pictures from the Harvest Picnic.  The reason for that was we were all too busy to pick up a camera.  The focus was on the kids really, as they showed off the garden to their parents, harvested some veggies (yes, they worked that day too!), received their end-of-the-season compensation, along with book bags, food harvest bags, school supplies and lots and lots of food*.  It was a great time and very satisfying to watch.

So are you ready for our magical tour?  Then, everybody sing along with me…

Green acres is the place to be.

Farm livin’ is the life for me.

Land spreadin’ out so far and wide

Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside!**

What have we here?

DSCN0841

Zucchini...very impressive!

Zucchini…very impressive!

DSCN0844

A real pleasure to find…

Are you ready for some "fried green tomatoes"?

Are you ready for some “fried green tomatoes”?

DSCN0849

From a tiny seed…

DSCN0850

Look at what I’ve found!

Kale...little soldiers all in a row!

Kale…little soldiers all in a row!

Beans...beans good for the heart!

Beans…beans good for the heart!

Our new sign on display!

Our new sign on display!

The view from afar!

The view from afar!

This is how it looked in early October...nice, eh?

This is how it looked in early October…nice, eh?

October 2012

October 2012

Program Founder and Coordinator

Bonnie Odom-Brown

BE Culturally Exposed

 

Founding Sponsor

newSTAFFINGdiamondtop[1]

 

 

Presenting Sponsor

MIFCU logo and tagline

The Greening of Detroit

 

project-sweet-tomato-logo

 

*Food Sponsor:  Mazin Shina/Imperial Supermarket

**The Theme from “Green Acres” (TV show)

The End Of The Beginning – She Leaves H_ _ _ t P_ _ _ _ s!

The End Of The Beginning – A Letter Of Appreciation To Ms. Maura

The End Of The Beginning – This Is The World Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners Made!

The End Of The Beginning!

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The End Of The Beginning – Thanking The Help!

While we still have your attention, we thought now was probably the best time to thank the people that regularly came out to help and support B.E. Culturally Exposed’s “Planting The Seeds” Garden, Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners and Project Sweet Tomato.  We couldn’t have made it without every single one of them.

Advisors/Consultants

Jenni Littsey

John Adams

The Greening of Detroit/Garden Resource Program

 

Volunteers

Jan Sansom

Bonnie Ponder

Parents and friends of Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners

 

The Staff of Snelling Staffing Services

Livonia

Southfield

Taylor

Auburn Hills

 

Food & Supplies

Mazin Shina

Imperial Supermarket

Mazin Shina

 

Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor

Sandra M. Tomlin

Vice President, Community Relations

Michigan First Credit Union

MIFCU logo and tagline

 

Founding Sponsor

Maura Ryan-Kaiser

Vice President, Regional Manager

Snelling Staffing Services

newSTAFFINGdiamondtop[1]

 

 

From all of us to all of you…Thank You Very Much!

 

Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners

Nolan Elementary-Middle School

 

Bonnie Odom-Brown

B.E. Culturally Exposed

 

Arthur Littsey

project-sweet-tomato-logo

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The End Of The Beginning – She Leaves H_ _ _ T P _ _ _ _ S!

First things first!  By the end of this story you will be able to fill in the blanks…

I was sitting around one day after dinner with a bunch of friends and quite naturally the conversation shifted to my work with the kids at the “Planting The Seeds” garden.  They wanted to hear about the latest events and activities at the garden and they especially wanted to know more about the “little” lady that ran the program, BE Culturally Exposed.  As I explained to them who Bonnie was, what she does and how she does things (I call her Lisa because she reminds me of the show Green Acres as she uses her car to haul all sorts of things), it dawned upon me that the words I was using were actually a little too simple and the meaning of said words didn’t go deep enough to describe the type of person she was and what she means to the kids and perhaps to any regular observer of the garden.  So after my friends left, I sat down and tried to find the right word or group of words that described her exactly as she was.  I used words like absolute, because Bonnie is positive, actual, real and unquestionably genuine.  The word beautify because Bonnie beautifies the environment and everything that is within her sphere.  Certifiable, came to mind also.  Not as an insult though, but because you have to be crazy to do what Bonnie has done to make the garden successful and to provide such an important and relevant program for the kids.  Dedicated is one of the words that is so obvious and it is painfully inadequate in this case to describe why she does what she does. Teamplayer…the dynamic relationship with Ms. Maura is strengthened by the fact they can work together in pursuit of the same positive goal.  I went on and on until it dawned on me, Bonnie is all of the above and them some because she does something totally unique…Bonnie Elizabeth of the little hands and the big heart, leaves “heartprints”.  Like kids that leave their fingerprints on walls, doorknobs, and tables, Bonnie leaves indelible heartprints on whatever and whomever she touches.  Heartprints of compassion…of understanding and love.  Heartprints of kindness and genuine concern.  If I were to ask the kids at the garden how they felt about her, I am confident that they all would say that they have felt her touch and that they all sense the love for them that is deep within her heart.  She has left her identity on each and every one of them.  As the kids grow up and go their separate ways, Ms. Bonnie as they call her, will be with them forever.  And why not?  It’s as clear as a dewdrop on a rose petal, her heartprints are all over them!

Now Do I Have To Spell It Out For Ya!

“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”.

B.E. Odom-Brown, June 2012

 

Thanks Ms. Bonnie For Your Tremendous Heart!

Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners

Maura Ryan-Kaiser

Arthur Littsey

 

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The End Of The Beginning – A Letter Of Appreciation To Ms. Maura

One of the best things about writing a blog is that it gives you the ability to write just what you are feeling at the moment.  Sometimes you are writing out of anger or there are times when you want to be humorous.  I have found myself writing sometimes because I feel the need to communicate something really important to me and to others.  You can speak your truth on a blog without fear of somebody editing it or trying to get you to change the content or the purpose of what you are trying to say.  So today’s blog is about communicating something that is important to me and to others.  And when I say others, I mean Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners!  It will be the truth…no filtering or editing.

On a recent day at the garden, we asked the gardeners what did they like about Ms. Maura.  Please bear in mind, we got a lot of “I don’t knows…I just like her”…or “She lets me ride in her car”, type comments too.  So we settled on the few presented below as the best of the best to share with you.

What is it about Ms. Maura?

Dejahnique

What I like about her is that she would come to the garden to help us and show us how to do things. One time when we had a picnic in the garden when bought all of us ice cream, that’s what I like about her.

Arlyssa

What I like about her is that she is nice and she keeps us focused. She always has great mints that she shares while we are working. And she is funny.

Delana

What I like about Ms. Maura is that she likes to come to the garden and help us in the garden.

JaMarcus

Ms Maura is a kind lady. Once she gave me some books. Sometimes she helps when it’s hard to understand. I hope I see Ms Maura next year.

Tamara

I like her because she is nice and she is a helper in the garden. She helps me and others by helping us plant flowers and seeds. She helps me plant the seed in the ground and explain how to do it.

Ashia

I like Ms Maura because I can get a ride home from the garden and she is nice and sweet all the time.

Love Ashia

Ms. Odom-Brown

It’s that she genuinely likes the kids and is always willing to help. She comes all the way from Livonia or Taylor or Birmingham into the city to help them in the school garden. And it seems like that doing this is the most important part of her day.

When she is with the kids she makes them feel like they are important. She is happy to sit on the ground with them and show them how to harvest sunflower seeds. How wonderful that someone is willing to show that kind of patience to kids that are not their own. We need many more Ms. Maura’s in the world.

BE Culturally Exposed and the Planting the Seeds Garden are truly blessed to have a supporter like Ms. Maura.

So why am I sharing this story with you. Well, it is because too often people do not express what they should express when it is best to express it.  Maura has told me plenty of times that she is not out here for the accolades…the glory and fame!  For if you were to see her out there working with the kids, boys and girls, getting her hands dirty and her face smudged, on her hands and knees, you would think she is just another volunteer.  But her work cannot go without an acknowledgement.  How many sponsors, heads of businesses or mothers with three growing boys at home (including her husband, Jack) will you find working at a community garden after school in probably not the best neighborhood the city of Detroit can offer.  Not that it, the neighborhood, is a big challenge, but many people easily just say “no, not me”.

Maura told me about a recent trip to Chicago and as she and her family walked around they were so impressed by the diversity of the community and the seemingly lack of division between the cultures.  That’s how she sees the world.  Everybody working and trying to create a world of one culture…perhaps one race, no black, white or brown.  A melding of the races and cultures so that everybody looked at each other the same way…we are all sisters and brothers.

I look into her eyes and I see a memory there that shows that her life is a little more relatable to the lives of these kids than one would typically expect.  She is not a “silver-spooner”…no, not at all.  She understands what’s going on here…FOR REAL!  She relates…she hangs out…she’s a mother, not just a sponsor, with a very large and extended family.  She holds nothing back and she even corrects when it is appropriate to do so.  Believe it or not, she knows every child’s name (with me the best they can get is a grunt and a point), what they are interested in and how often they work at the garden.  Recently, there was a boy that had been away from the garden due to an illness, and on his first day back, they picked up on the exact conversation they had before he had left.  Two months had transpired between their last words to each other.  So strong is the bond!  There are these two young sisters, and to the uneducated eye (like mine), they look and act so much a like you would swear they are twins.  Not Maura, she knows their names, who’s who personality-wise and the difference in their ages.  I need more clients/sponsors like Ms. Maura.  The image of Maura sitting on the ground, hair falling gently over her face as she shows the kids how to get the seeds from the sunflowers was more than a Norman Rockwell moment.  Not too many artists, painters or photographers, would be capable of capturing the compassion and the tenderness of the teaching and sharing that was going on between her and the kids during that spell, and no writer, lyricist or poet, would find the right words within him or herself, that would properly described.

Lastly, I, on a personal level, have come to appreciate the depth of her character, the strength of her will and her ability to commit totally to what she feels and believes in.  I made the mistake of underestimating her once and I will never do that again.  I should have known from watching her play baseball on the company team a long time ago.  She was not the best hitter nor was she the fastest runner or slickest fielder; many a ball was knocked over her head or hit hard past her.  She made her share of errors too.  But nobody out worked…out hustled…or played with more desire and passion.  And when the bases were loaded, with two outs and Maura was standing at the plate…Maura came through time and time again.  She would find a way…yes, she did…she would find a way.

Ms. Maura goes about the days at the garden, working with the kids as if it was NO BIG DEAL!  Like I said, when she is out there she’s one of the gang.  But now she knows that we know that she knows that to us she is a big deal and that’s a feeling we will have for the rest of our days.  Maura is more than a sponsor to the kids (gardeners) of Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners, BE Culturally Exposed, the Planting The Seeds garden and Project Sweet Tomato.  She’s a friend…our BEST friend and that’s a really big deal!

Thanks to (Ms.) Maura Ryan-Kaiser,

her husband Jack Kaiser (for his handiness),

their two boys and

the entire Snelling organization,

especially,

the company volunteers

that worked at our garden!

From…

Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners,

Bonnie Odom-Brown/BE Culturally Exposed,

Arthur Littsey/Project Sweet Tomato

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