Progress Notes: The Hospital Calls Back
July 13, 2016

Going on a year ago, I made my first blog post as a green intern in Gonzales, Texas (Greetings: A New Hopeful Intern). I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to start cultivating a community garden from the ground up. Last summer and fall, I made the hour and thirty minute commute to Gonzales from Austin every Friday. Progress was slow, and it was often difficult to coordinate meeting community partners with my limited availability.

It seemed like it would take nothing short of a magician’s abra kadabra to morph this neglected field into a community garden, even with the enormous help of having the hospital board backing our project. I kept joking with people, telling them “If we build it, they will come”,  but I was also assuring myself of this.

Here is the volunteer crew from our very first work day in the garden! We built several raised beds and filled them all by hand.
Here is the volunteer crew from our very first work day in the garden! We built several raised beds and filled them all by hand. Our compost was donated by a local business, Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farm, and delivered by another local.

 

At the time I was interning, I had just completed a summer term with AmeriCorp’s VISTA program and did not have a full time job. I was teaching after-school STEM labs at several different schools, and volunteering twice a week at Urban Roots, a volunteer run farm in Austin. It just so happened that my boss, a registered dietitian, was looking to get some extra help in her new position at the hospital. In January, I started working at the hospital full time as a dietetic technician!

 

Here is one  of the raised beds just after building it. The design is called a "keyhole", and the main feature is the hollow center for compost!
Here is one of the raised beds just after building it. The design is called a “keyhole”, and the main feature is the hollow center for compost!

 

 

I am still responsible for community garden related organization and maintenance, but now work with Cynthia on dietary management and patient care as well. The first two seasons in the community garden were a huge success! We built nineteen raised beds, acquired a shed and a crop of tools, won grant money from two local businesses (Wal-Mart and GVTC), erected a game fence to keep out the deer, and celebrated our dedicated volunteers and gardeners with a thank-you party!

 

 

 

 

Here is the same raised bed after the heavy spring rains!
Here is the same raised bed after the heavy spring rains!

Despite my early termination of the internship, the wonderful staff of Ogallala Commons invited me to Talon Point for their third annual retreat last month! I was so happy to share stories, ideals and great food with all of you. I even (quite unexpectedly) won the Art Slam event with an original poem I read. It was an inspiring couple of days that was worth the nine hour trip from Seguin, which was luckily made more enjoyable by the great company I shared a ride with. I left the panhandle of Texas with hope, new connections, and a fresh wave of determination.

 

Even if my experience has been a bit nontraditional, I am excited to continue to grow within the organization through the Learning Cohort program this month!