Stories from the ground: The view from the Veggielution greenhouses

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First thing in the morning, the Veggielution greenhouses lay deceptively calm under the rumbling 280 and 680N freeways. As I roll up the greenhouse doors, I am greeted by warm air and carpets of green seedlings - kale, green onions, and broccoli, all neatly lined up in their soil block flats, as well as our first batch of summer crops - eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers (oh my!). If I have just returned after a weekend, chances are something new will have germinated while I was away - perhaps the pak choi that was planted two Saturdays ago, or the cilantro that was seeded the week before that. At the moment, the old greenhouse is full to capacity, with our vegetable crops occupying the table tops, and assorted wildflowers that were enthusiastically seeded by the lovely Goss and McKinley elementary students growing happily away in the bottom shelves.

But don’t let the silence of photosynthesizing plants fool you. The greenhouse is a bustling place! Give it a few hours, and chances are there will be a crew of  industrious volunteers hard at work making soil mix, busting out soil blocks as if they were born for it, or else seeding armies of new plants. Indeed, after the lull of the winter, the twin greenhouses are now in full swing, as we prepare to fill 4 acres of new land with a delicious line of up of edible glory.

The greenhouses are a heady place, and we truly cannot not keep up with the formidable seeding calendar without the steady help of our committed volunteers. Although I am surrounded by plants everyday, I never forget that people are at the center of everything Veggielution does. There are always little reminders - whether it’s the father who brings his son and daughter to the greenhouse to tell them ‘This is what I did at home, in my country’ or the child who begged his father to come back to a Veggielution workday, bringing his siblings with them, because he enjoyed seeding zinnias so much the week before. Indeed, even during the our busiest moments, I can’t help but feel I am a child at play. As I like to say, the dirtier you are, the harder you are working; so slap some mud on your face, and head over to the Veggielution greenhouses to get your hands dirty!

Mika Shibuya
Farm Hand