This week we celebrate (and say farewell) to the fullness of summer at its calendar-end with Labor Day weekend in full view here in the US. We do this with some moving and wonderful sounds of a summer concert series not only held in but inspired by a remarkable urban garden - the CapRadio Garden at Sac State – a garden of season and meaning in downtown Sacramento, California.
We’re in conversation with Jennifer Reason, musician, Midday Classical Music Announcer and Summer Concert Series Host, and with CapRadio’s Garden Coordinator Nicole McDavid.
They - the women, the concert series musicians and music, the garden itself - all remind us of just how much one garden can hold, no less than the breadth and depth of our planet’s seasonal faces and our incredibly diverse expressions of humanity – in grief, in community, and in joy.
In the conversation we explore how the history, mission and layout of this unique garden, how it and its people fared during Covid shutdowns, how even amidst lockdown and loss of volunteers, Nicole was able to it meet the garden's goals of pounds of produce grown and donated back into the community, in particular to the food pantry for students experiencing food insecurity at Sacramento State, and how the garden eventually became the perfect location for the powerful 2021 Summer Concert Series! The full six-part summer series conducted in the garden and aired on CapRadio and North State Public radio on Fridays this summer is available online in its entirety at capradio.org/classical/summer-concert-series/ . Finally we hear about future hopes and plans for the gardens and we consider the effect of community and music on the life of plants, as well as of course the effect of plants on human wellbeing.
CapRadio operates in one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world, and yet the broader community faces substantial food access and sustainability challenges.
Through their Food and Sustainability initiative, the CapRadio newsroom covers the critical challenges facing the global food system and explores food as the basis of culture, connection, health and community. The CapRadio Garden is an extension of the station's storytelling initiative, providing a gathering space for community members, policy makers, educators, and students. Through hands-on activities, lectures and dialogues, and now Summer Concert Series CapRadio furthers public awareness around multi-dimensional issues including food, diversity, inclusion, health, and community.
You can follow CapRadio and the CapRadio Garden at Sac State online at capradio.org, capradio.org/garden/. You can follow Jennifer Reason online at JenniferReason.com or on Instragram @jenniferreason; you can follow Nicole McDavid's work online at capradio.org/garden/.
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JOIN US again next week, when we explore garden matters of both art and heart in conversation with American photographer, designer, writer, homemaker, gardener and Vicar’s wife - Kristin Perers. Kristin divides her time and talents between London and Florida. Listen in!
Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the American Horticultural Society. Soon to Celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, AHS has been a trusted source of high quality gardening and horticultural information since 1922.
Today, AHS’s mission blends education, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship with the art and practice of horticulture. Members of AHS receive the award-winning flagship magazine, The American Gardener, free admission and other discounts to more than 345 public gardens with the Reciprocal Admissions Program, plus discounts on books, seeds, programs and more!
Listeners of Cultivating Place can receive a $10 discount on the annual individual membership of $35, by visiting www.ahsgardening.org/CP For your annual Membership to the American Horticultural Society for the special Cultivating Place rate of just $25 a year, head over to www.ahsgardening.org/CP.
Thinking out loud this week:
Hey It’s Jennifer –
This interview has me thinking - hard - about this: What would our world look like, sound like, taste like, if all public spaces took a little of their unused unloved and yet over-fed and watered and mown lawn or neglected gravel bars and made a space for shared food, musical artful companionable gathering, for bees and birds? What would our world feel like then?
A little better, I’d wager and CapRadio’s Garden at Sac State makes for mellifluous evidence in support of that wager.
Another truly compelling aspect of my recent travels – coupled with our last few weeks of Cultivating Place Conversations – with Matthew Trumm, With Owen Wormser, with Rebecca McMackin and then this one from the CapRadio Garden, is just how capacious our gardens are. How very much of us – the details and thresholds of our lives they can hold for us and reflect back to us. Do you know what I mean by this?
As I've traveled recently, people have shared with me their own gardens for book signings, they've told me of their personal and public gardens being the sacred containers in which their community had gathered to sit shiva and mourn a death, they held christenings, dinner parties, sprinkler games, egg hunts, provided a few colorful blooms to offer another, a few fragrant stems to comfort ourselves, a stoop or rock for evening meditation beneath stars before bed.
No matter how small, our gardens and our plant- friends bear witness to our lives just as we bear witness to theirs. How blessed and lucky are we in this?
How blessed and fortunate beyond measure.
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