Summer Volunteering with CitySprouts
Emily Bartosic, CitySprouts Summer Volunteer
I volunteered as a gardener with CitySprouts at the Amigos School in Cambridge this summer. I found the organization after scrolling through Instagram and discovering that a plant shop I followed was hosting an evening to benefit CitySprouts. This finding felt quite serendipitous to me as I had been looking for an opportunity around Boston in which I could tend to a garden plot for the summer. I input a volunteer inquiry and began helping at the Amigos School in June.
I was particularly drawn to CitySprouts because I wanted gardening to be a part of my summer so that I could have access to fresh produce while also benefiting from harvesting the food myself. As a city dweller, it is often hard to come by the chance to work closely with nature and I recognized that this opportunity would provide me just that. I was further inspired by their mission to impact every child, family, and teacher through hands-on learning in accessible urban gardens, providing them the opportunity to be outside and be exposed to healthy vegetables.
Another reason I got involved is because I am interested in cultivating ways to make my life and our future more sustainable. I currently work in healthcare fundraising, so I understand the importance of developing and supporting community outlets that provide children and families the knowledge and access to grow their own food so that they may lead a healthier lifestyle. Being a vegetarian, I have a keen sense of how our food choices create global impact but I feel gardening has furthered my understanding of small steps I can take to promote a healthier world. By engaging hands-on, I felt the connection between my support and a plant’s abundance in a thriving environment.
Throughout the summer, I enlisted the help of my friends which made for a very fun experience. We bonded over the teamwork that goes into gardening, from divvying up watering, weeding, and harvesting to sharing cool bugs we found in the soil while sitting in awe at how much an eggplant had taken shape since we last saw it budding. My friends thanked me for engaging them in gardening as they learned the level of dedication and care it takes to make our food grow.
I am thankful for my summer with CitySprouts as I gained more than anticipated. I learned that garlic buds underground and sprouts a large stem that signifies it is ready to be harvested. I discovered that gardening is like a meditation, in that as you tend the earth and put love into your actions, the vegetables respond by growing in multitudes. Similar to if in life, you input love then preciousness results.
One of my favorite memories from the summer was when students from the Amigos School ran over, curious to what I was doing. I told them I was watering the plants so they could grow and so that we could enjoy them later on. Huge smiles beamed across their faces as they giddily pointed to each vegetable while asking me to define it. The students seemed most impressed by how tall the corn stalks were and we began comparing their heights to the corn. It was incredible to see how excited they were and how they looked forward to getting involved with CitySprouts when they started back up at school.
I hope to continue volunteering over the summers and to engage in other opportunities with this organization. Gardening with CitySprouts has piqued my interest in choosing to live more sustainably to better my lifestyle while simultaneously helping an organization whose efforts trickle throughout the Boston community and beyond.