As the multicolored leaves gracefully fall to the Earth’s soft ground, the smell of the post-rain from this year’s early fall season is too much to resist. The crisp air follows Mirium Edell out to Linn Benton’s on-campus community garden as she harvests fresh produce from the carefully groomed crops.
Starting as a gardening club for veterans made by veterans, The Veterans Gardening Club is struggling to keep its doors open. After three years of being in movement, LBCC causes not just a threat to make cuts to the volunteer ran garden, but also to the horticulture program in addition to the on-campus greenhouse.
What will happen to the resources that help the garden stay afloat is still unclear. However, Edell and her garden associate M’Liss Runyon refuse to allow any outside stress to affect their time tending to the plants. “Gardening is therapy. It just promotes mental health. It’s pretty hard to get stressed out here.” Runyon elegantly offers as she breezes by with a gallon of water.
- M’Liss Runyon and Mirium Edell care for and water the plants and encourage students to enjoy the open air of the Veteren’s Garden.
After working for nine and a half years as part-time faculty and as a part-time staff member as an instructional specialist in the horticulture department at LBCC, Edell hand waters each plant with the knowledge of the necessary care each crop requires.
Despite the “club” hours every Tuesday from 12:00 am to 12:50 am Edell and Runyon pushes people to arrive any time of any day of the week to relieve themselves of your typical “office environment,” and encourage people to unwind in the open air. Welcome to plant any crop the two-acre garden, the club members take the food they need while the remaining products are donated to LBCC’s Parenting Program.
“The goal is for mental health, comradery, and connection,” Edell quotes “For the people that work out here, the goal is to grow food, healthy food, and to teach people how to grow that food organically.”
In hopes of fighting the unjustifiable cuts against the hands-on efforts of the whole horticulture program, Edell and Runyon persist by letting go of their worries by absorbing the gentle aesthetic of the garden next to the Luckiamute Center. Together, the gardeners welcome anyone to stop by and experience their hand in hardening with the intention to let go of stresses, to focus on the soft grounds of the dirt and the gentle sun-kissed leaves. Bring your seeds, gloves, and shovel, to leave your worries, stresses, and anxieties behind for a few hours of solitude in LBCC’s open garden.