A Resounding "We Can!"
By Kyle Kramer, Volunteer
The ground was frozen solid when we showed up at the Catawba Trail Farm site early in the morning on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to help with building the new UCAN community garden. The farm site is hidden a few hundred feet back along the old dirt drive, with the cleared garden plot alongside several old farm buildings—some more salvageable than others. Surrounded by massive oak trees and quiet groves of cedar, it's a tranquil place to gather. Some of the volunteers were just about frozen solid too, so the first order of business was building two fires to keep warm! Fortunately Triangle Land Conservancy's AmeriCorps member Molly had a collapsible fire pit on hand and we found an old tin barrel to start the day out with a blaze.
One team of volunteers worked on measuring and staking out the locations for fence posts for the garden, even getting marker flags into the ground required a hammer! However, the complicated conditions did create valuable camaraderie for the embattled fence post crew as they continued to chip away at the ground and begin digging post holes. Meanwhile, another team worked on beginning to clear away the brush and logs accumulated from clearing the plot, heroically diving into a veritable mountain of debris with loppers and saws at the ready. UCAN brought in the cavalry in the form of a rented wood chipper and chainsaws, and work picked up as the day warmed ever-so-slightly. A third team got to work assembling the garden beds with impressive speed.
Many hands make light work, but good spirits make things even easier. All around, volunteers, many meeting for the first time, made immediate connections and enjoyed each other's company as they set about their tasks. When we stopped briefly to take a group photo, we did so with a UCAN cheer of “We can!”—a perfect summary of the way the group blended so seamlessly in working together. As some of the morning crew departed, more afternoon volunteers arrived. In total, the day saw more than thirty volunteers of all ages and backgrounds come together for a day of service, with inspiring results.
A small crew returned the following morning to complete more work, building the rest of the garden bed frames and continuing with brush and log removal. Unfortunately, the cold weather once again proved an obstacle, as it was too chilly to properly mix the cement needed to set the garden's fence posts. More workdays await as the weather gets warmer, but after the enthusiasm and bonding of the first work weekend, there's no doubt that Catawba Trail Farm will provide many more chances to say: “We Can!”