What I Did During My Summer Vacation

If I’m remembering correctly, the last person to assign me this classic essay topic was my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Styles. I’d just spent the summer with my grandparents, and spending time with my grandparents meant doing a lot of yard work.

Now, a couple of decades later, I find myself at the end of another summer of yard work, but, not having a Mrs. Styles to report to, I’m sending my essay out into the blogosphere instead.

To begin, I don’t mind getting dirty, and I love being outside. That’s why, when looking at the different volunteer opportunities on the Regional Food Bank’s website last May, I thought Urban Harvest would be the best fit for me.

I’ve been able to volunteer at the Food Bank since then, and while I respect and value the work that’s being done in the volunteer center and our partner agencies, I have no regrets about my decision to spend eight hours each day in the Food Bank’s great big backyard.

Anyone who’s never had the opportunity to see the garden hiding behind our warehouse should really find a reason to go check it out (for a good excuse, I suggest coming to one of our open volunteer sessions from 8-12 on Tuesdays and Thursdays). If you’ve ever wondered about vermicomposting or using an aquaponics system, it’s very informative and also pretty cool. As for me, I had never wondered about these things before turning up to volunteer, because I’d never heard of them. This made it even more informative and fun.

I expected to spend a lot of time weeding, watering, and planting. That’s what I did the summer before the fifth grade, after all. I wasn’t wrong. I did a lot of that stuff.

But, what my grandparents hadn’t prepared me for was all the other awesome stuff I got to do. By the end of my three months of yard work, I’d helped build a scenic field of rolling compost hillsides. I’d poured earthworms through a self-rotating mechanical sieve. I’d saved tilapia from a minor oil spill, chased a rabbit through a greenhouse, strapped a Ghostbusters-style sprayer to my back, and learned a ton about natural gardening.  If you’re curious about vermicomposting and aquaponics, ask me. I’ll tell you all about it.

Volunteering in the Urban Harvest gardens turned out to be the perfect way for me to help provide fresh food for hungry Oklahomans, and be outside and get a little dirty while doing it.  Overall, it was a pretty sweet summer.

Denice Hurlbut

Volunteer Retention

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