“Out of gardens grow fleeting flowers but lasting friendships.” –Beverly Rose Hopper
Last weekend, as we kicked off one of my favorite events of the year (one which I will be particularly sad to leave behind as I move away from Baltimore this summer), it occurred to me how much this space has evolved over the years.
Delicious food, chill tunes, hoola hooping? Of course, I cannot imagine a better way of spending a sunny Sunday afternoon (especially given that some of our previous openings were notably marked by quite cold/rainy/windy weather). However, as I watched the ~70 students, staff, and community members enjoy the musical acts performed by Sunny Suntharanund, Melissa Delgado, Bea So, Joshua Langfus, and Margo Heston; potluck picnic (all natural hot dogs/brats, SSB+J sandwiches, as well as an assortment of salads, veggie dishes, biscuits, dumplings, and even some of Dale’s hot sauce made with peppers from our own garden!); and the other fun festivities, I was moved more by how we’ve truly transformed this place from a garden into a community.
Four years ago, when we celebrated our first opening, we barely knew one another. Sure, we came together to eat and chat, but we were strangers in nearly every way possible. Students might have known one another from classes or clubs, staff from their own department, or community members from their respective groups. Now, after having spent countless hours together planting, weeding, turning compost (or sitting in a meeting planning to do all of these), I know more about many of my garden buddies than I do about some of my closest friends. Transformative childhood memories, job stresses and successes, major life decisions, political opinions, favorite recipes – we’ve shared it all.
And I think that’s what makes this garden such an integral part of my life (and, I presume, the lives of many of the others who return each and every year). It’s wonderful to grow some of one’s own food, but the relationships I’ve built up over the years have proven so much more fruitful. College (and one’s 20’s in general) is, by nature, a period of transience. Friends are coming and going every semester. Life plans (if existent at all) are constantly in flux. It seems like one has to move at least once a year. Having such a tight BJP community across generations, neighborhoods, disciplines, and backgrounds keeps me grounded in what really matters in life – deep conversations, helping hands, good food, a sense of belonging.
While it’s bittersweet knowing that this was my last opening celebration (knock on wood, as I did say this once before), I will treasure these memories forever, and can’t wait to hear about all the exciting new ventures to come from the BJP in the future!
All the best,