Notes from the Garden

by Toby Rosenberg, congregant

Throughout this entire growing season, the garden committee and volunteers have continued to look after Bet Ha’am’s garden and grounds. Caring for our beloved home, even though we could not access the building, helped each of us feel connected and anchored as we kept Bet Ha’am looking tended. In working our raised beds, we continued Bet Ha’am’s mission to grow and donate food for the needy. These activities have offered a sense of normalcy during  the pandemic.

On Sunday, October 11, several of us gathered  for our annual grounds spruce-up. The weather was perfect for outdoor chores  which we tackled at good physical distances. We cut back spent plants, weeded, scrubbed garden benches, mulched, and pruned all over the Bet Ha’am campus including beds on the Westbrook Street side.

We also renovated a bed we are sure you will notice when we eventually return to our building.  It is the area below the window at the end of our entry corridor, just before you enter the sanctuary. Since the very creation of our sanctuary garden we have struggled to keep anything alive in that hot, south-facing, dry area. It has looked sparse and naked each year no matter what we tried planting. After removing the stones from our reflecting pool last year, we got the idea to recycle some of those stones and create a rock garden in that troublesome spot. Lauren Lehman designed a bed. She and Shai Levite will select some small boulders as focal points for this new hardscape. The bed will finally look finished and intentional. The stones will offer a sense of groundedness and the smaller boulders will not interrupt the long view into the garden that our architects intended as a reminder of God’s presence through nature. We all look forward to enjoying this new spot in our sanctuary garden.

As I write this, a crew is gathering to spend a last day in the raised bed garden. They will harvest any remaining crops, remove garden refuse, prep the beds for winter by amending them with compost and covering them with pine needles. They will demolish the old rotted herb bed leaving room for something new. They will plant garlic as we look forward to next year. Indeed, the cycle of the gardens gives us the gratification of accomplishment and hope for the future.

Special thanks to the volunteers who helped on October 11: Solange Kellerman, mulchin’ Matt Kramer, David Caldwell, Ken Lehman, and new Bet Ha’am member Dana McCabe.

Thanks also to the committee members who worked so tenaciously: Fearless Leader Catherine Share, Bill Welch, Jane Weinstein, Joanie Caldwell, Karen Lukas, Toby Rosenberg, Gretchen Greenberg, Lauren Lehman, Shai Levite, and Giselle Linn.

And many thanks to the crew working in the raised bed garden on October 30: Catherine Share, Rachel and Piotrek Stamieszkin, Joanie and David Caldwell, and Gretchen Greenberg.

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