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Introduction: a story not about a garden


In Jardin del Sol - August 2023

"There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”

—Elizabeth Lawrence

I like saying that, as a child, I was raised by grass. As the product of a generation of parents too busy working and an everyday with way less technology and way more neighborliness, my siblings and I, and a group of kids that shifted shape every time, roamed the blocks, yards, woods and parks of our neighborhood with an effervescence and a presence that I miss ( I suspect cellphones partially stole both those things from today's generation). Outside, we learned the ways of the urban wildlife, we created earthworks of serious complexity and narrative, we climbed, ran, laughed and fought. The strange landscape of a Nature that resists being domesticated (especially in the Global South) and fights urbanization back, particularly on the edges of a big city, was the place of ultimate enchantment, mystery, and our parent out of home. Plants, trees, insects, birds, were always there, silently guiding us. Or maybe they were just listening.

As a working class family in Argentina, we lived mostly in apartments and never had a yard. So, past my childhood years, I grew up ignorant of the ways of the Plants, too busy trying to fulfill society's expectations, my wild artist heart suffering in between. The unhappiness that comes from not being able to live my why found me emigrating from Argentina in 2013, first to Mexico, and then to the United States. In those days of cultural shock and isolation, I turned to the Plants again for company and contemplation.

But it wasn't until many years later, once I moved to Cincinnati, that I had an opportunity to grow a garden.

“To plant a garden is to dream of tomorrow.” 

—Audrey Hepburn


How I found it. April 2022

In April 2022, I was given a chance to change apartments and found myself with what I considered a true gift: a patch of land. If you saw it, you probably wouldn't call what it was a backyard: vacant lot, dumpster, forgotten corner of the Earth, would have been more fitting names. Ignorant of how to start, I started observing.

There were metal poles and trash and random pieces of wood and lots and lots of debris. There were also some of the "good weeds" - purple nettle, dandelion - and lots of the other kind. There were trees, some grown, some really young - I would start finding these when I started cleaning the space up. There were squirrels, chickadees, titmouse, sparrows, cardinals. It was a mixed bag. But most of all, there was proof of Life. And that's all I needed to get started.


A pile of debris I gathered after establishing the first bed - July 2022

The first year, I established my first bed in a corner that gets the most shade and moisture. I started with seedlings and bulbs of Ohio woodland natives. As someone who didn't know the ways of the Plants, I started the garden in July, a time that 95% of gardeners will say is the worst time to start a garden. Even so, most Plants not only survived but thrived the first year. Many of them, however, I wouldn't see until after the first spring, in 2023.

Some Plants died. And I learned from that. That first winter I also learned that Mullein and Sage overwinter, no problem. Along the way I tested and tried and moved Plants and moved them back... learning, learning; learning as I went, and learning from the Plants. Because it was the Plants who now were talking, and it was I who now was listening.

I started the garden with a single Yarrow plant in May 2022. By the fall of 2023, I estimated that Jardín del Sol was home to over 40 species of plants and trees, most of them native medicinal plants. By then I had also "successfully" eaten some from the garden (including many, many cucumbers that I grew from seed). I began to have an understanding of my more-than-human neighbors, and how to care for them too. Birds got their playground. Pollinators were regulars and knew that the stay came with meals. The garden showed me where the bumblebees sleep when it gets cold, and how a gardener is only a helper, and a student. By the end of the fall, my heart was sad but full - sad to close the garden, but full with all that it had given me that season.


Marigolds in the garden. September 2023.

"Green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.” 

—Russell Page

This is the short version of a longer story; this is, however, not a story about a garden. It's a story about what can be learned when working with the land. It's a story about a wild child who became domesticated and in her adult life chose to rewild herself by rewilding a patch of land in Evanston, Cincinnati, Ohio. This is a story of hope - or at least, I hope so.

Without Jardín del Sol, the project of the Wellness Garden would have never been conceived. But where there's Land, there's the possibility for growth. It is my intention to share that possibility with you all. Thank you for reading.



A view from the back of the Jardín. September 2023.


Sunflowers. August 2023.

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Our programs have been nourishing the community since 2005. In 2019, we became the non-profit, A Mindful Moment.


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