2017-07-18

One Sunny Saturday in Pacheco Community Center

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Every year, Pacheco offers a year-long course on gardening to a group of young adolescents living in the neighborhood; they learn how to plant and grow vegetables, how to better cultivate a land, and how to work together toward a common goal.

One of the problems in the Pacheco neighborhood is that the ground contains a lot of water, and it is not the most suitable environment for cultivating plants. On the day we visited, there were three different activities relevant to addressing such issues in the area:

1.Measuring the direction of the water flow

To check if the ground had a slant, we tied a string between two shovels and put each one in two separate places. After determining if the distance between the string and the ground differed, we recorded the direction of water flow to see where the water would flow to or aggregate. We found out that the water would concentrate in the spot where one lemon tree stood. The teacher and the adolescents discussed what to do about the lemon tree, and decided to make a new platform a little bit above the ground for the lemon tree to solve the problem.

2. Digging up a hole

Due to an excessive water in the ground, the roots of plants cannot take in enough oxygen. Another group of adolescents dug up a hole that was about one meter deep. And later they refilled the hole with a mixture of soil, old tree branches, and pebbles of different sizes to make spaces for air in the ground. This new spot can now be used to grow more plants.

3. Saving the dying tree

There is a fungus growing inside an old dying tree. We covered the roots with rich soil and talked about what other measures we can take to save the tree. The idea was to try different things so that the tree will live.

During our short breaks, we had empanadas and pumpkin with ham and talked with the students in Pacheco whiling having a mate. We knew there is no magical solution to every perceived problem, nor is there a happy ending too good to be true. A story of a volunteer is not a story of a hero: It might have been too late to save the tree from the fungus, or raising the ground where the lemon tree stands may not be effective enough. But on our day in Pacheco, there was no spectators, and everyone was a part of the effort, finding and teaching each other how to find a solution. And this is what made the day extraordinary.

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