Seeds of Elizabeth Way

by Alexandrea Mendoza, University of the Pacific Student

MENDOZA_cropSome of my first memories are of a messy little garden in the side yard of the first home that I ever knew on Elizabeth Way. It was a small garden, probably no bigger than fifteen square feet. There were tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, spices and other greens. My mom and I loved our little garden. I remember holding the seeds in my hands when my mom would let me help plant the next round of plants. I would wake up and run down the hall and push away the blinds on the sliding glass door just to look at the progress that our plants had made. I would also try and help water the plants too, but when you are two feet tall you can only reach so far back. I remember one time picking off a tomato and being told to take a bite out of it and absolutely disliking the taste. It gave my parents a good laugh and to this day I still do not like tomatoes. Our garden was beautiful, green, and full of life, unfortunately it’s been years since I have seen my first home on Elizabeth Way and our messy little garden.

I have always wanted to go back to my mother’s little garden of my childhood and play around in the dirt. There was something special and enticing about placing seeds in the ground and watching them grow; it was like magic. But instead of magic beanstalks, they were just beanstalks. As I got older, the memory of the garden has become faint and I can only remember bits and pieces of it. Since leaving our first home on Elizabeth Way my mom and I have not been able to start another messy little garden. And after moving away from home for the first time, the memory and reality of having another seed in my hand seemed impossible. I am filled to the brim with extra-curriculars and academics. It looked as if it would never happen, until now.

Mendoza with Lexi

Alex and her buddy Lexi show the seedlings they started from seed

My sustainable gardening class has given me the opportunity to go out to the community garden and have a plot to share with someone who I consider family. For the first time in years I got to hold another seed in my hands (broccoli seeds are much smaller than I remember!). For the first time in years I got to stick my hands in the dirt. I felt as if I was home, and as if I was holding the seeds of my childhood. They seemed so small and frail in my hands, and holding them felt different as well. When I think about holding them as a child, to me they were magical. As I held them as an adult, they still had that sense of wonder and awe, but instead I felt more soothed and comforted. I felt such content even though my plot partner and I were frantically trying to plant, water, and label all of our seed cells; we were so spastic that we forgot to put our own names on the label. Planting our seeds may have been stressful, but the most stressful part was trying to figure out what we wanted to plant in our twelve foot square plot. We had a few options to choose from, but even then we still had some difficulty.

Looking through seed catalogs was extremely overwhelming. I never knew that there were so many different varieties of the same plant. When I think of carrots, I just think of big carrots and baby carrots that you buy in packages in the grocery store. I had no idea that there were different varieties called “Dragon,” “Danvers,” “Paris Market,” etc. The amount of different varieties is incredible. Each seed holds a different path and can be something completely different, and sometimes totally new. What was even more incredible was the fact that each type of seed had its own story, its own origin and its own personality. It really put into perspective and reminded me that plants are just as diverse and unique as people.

To me a seed is one of the purest forms of life. When it is untouched, it has the potential of producing a new, beautiful outcome. I am so excited to have the chance to recreate the messy little garden of Elizabeth way with the seeds that have been provided to me. My seeds are in small planting cells right now, but soon they will be beautiful, green and full of life. These will be the seeds of Pacific.

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