For the past two weeks Ethan Mauger, an Eckerd College senior, has been laboring away on the Edible Peace Patch, clearing overgrown grasses and weeds, transplanting bushes, planting seeds and getting starters started. He's done a fantastic job, but, except for one or two of the days, he's been completely on his own sweating it out in the Florida sun.
This past Friday, however, we got some major assistance from a group of 14 Eckerd College freshmen participating in the annual "Into the Streets" service day where Eckerd College sends its students into St. Petersburg to help out wherever it's needed. From what I saw, the class of 2015 is an impressive group!
The day was almost unbearably hot, in the nineties with a thick humid air and a burning summer Florida sun, and we asked them to turn sod, pull weeds, and lay mulch. Without a complaint, they set to work. The joy I get as an Eckerd College professor listening to the quiet conversations of working students cannot be measured. Here they learn about each other and begin to make friendships that will last four year and then a lifetime.
I had to convince them to stop and rest under the shade of a nearby oak tree after two hours. They seemed unwilling, persistent, driven, dedicated. In the photo above you can see the large area they had already cleared and after twenty minutes of cooling down, they went right back to work unprompted.
I had expected to complete maybe 1/4 of the garden area last Friday, but these students completed almost half of it, and laid a lot of mulch to boot. They were soaked with sweat, and sunburnt from the pounding rays of sun, but joyous in their own way and when I told them it was quitting time, they asked if I was sure. "Have we done enough?" One of them queried.
These young adults were amazing. They impressed me, and further reinforced my belief that the future will be in good hands. Thank you all and thanks to Brian MacHarg and the Service Learning Office who organizes this event every year.
And thanks especially to Ethan Mauger, who has picked up again where the freshmen left off last Friday and has turned a tangle of weeds and overgrown beds back into the beautiful garden we will tend this semester. I am grateful for all that you do.
Director, Edible Peace Patch