Imagine facing the task of digging a hole 100 feet long by 10 inches deep by 4 feet wide. Then imagine returning the next day and refilling that same 100 feet long hole with 11 tons of fresh soil! That is we had in store for us at Ujima these past three days. Thirty Slow Food volunteers, 15 young community members, and 12 students from WATCH High School worked together and got it done.
Friday 10am: The sun was blazing. We divided into crews.
Work Crew #1 built 12′ high horseshoe-shaped berms to create 100′ of raised beds. Instead of
buying wood to make the beds, we used pavement chunks that had been piled in the back of the lot years ago. Work Crew #2 dug out 12 inches of dirt inside the beds to insure that the clean soil would be deep enough to plant edibles. Meanwhile Work Crew #3 spent the day bundling branches and twigs for removal by the city.
Sat 9am: We shoveled out our first 4 yards of soil and 4 yards of mulch from the back of a box truck. Then, all of us worked together to heave it into wheelbarrows and get into our newly dug beds.
Just as the massive mound of soil was disappearing, a dump truck with 7 more yards showed up leaving us with a pile almost twice a big as the first one. Fortunately it was a Saturday and neighborhood children showed up in droves to help out; we couldn’t hand out the shovels fast enough.
At 2:30pm, we had the beds filled with new soil, but the mound on the street was still many feet high. We divided up into two crews – a planting crew and a shoveling crew. We had brought over our transplants on Thursday and we had to get them into the ground and watered. Four o’clock came and went. There was no end to that pile. Everyone was exhausted. We covered with tarps and headed home.
Sunday n00n: My day off? Nope. Kate and I headed back to Ujima hoping to find some Slow Food Volunteers there to help out again – we had beseeched them to return. As we drove up to the site, children appeared in twos and threes, ready to work.
Five hours 15 kids and 3 adults later, our pile was no more.The highlight of our day was when one Malik cheered us on by bursting into song, “Teamwork, Teamwork. That’s how we get things done.” We all joined in.
Our next workdays are June 25, June 26, June 27. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Kate@firstname.lastname@example.org