Lily and the Community Garden

Written by Madelyn Ekdom


Lily is a girl who would rather spend her time playing video games than playing outside. One day, Lily’s mother brings her along to help plant a community garden with their neighbor, Mrs. Hoover. Lily, who hates everything about gardening, learns many different things from spending time planting and gardening. Lily learns the important lesson that small things matter and make big impacts on the world around us.

Keywords: giving back, learning from the world, nature, appreciation

Lily woke up to the sun streaming through her curtains, a bright sun beam landing directly on her face. She groaned, pulled the soft blanket over her head, and tried to fall back asleep. Not but two seconds later her mother yelled,

“Lily Paulson! It is almost 7:30. You need to get up and get ready to go. We are helping Mrs. Hoover plant the community garden today. Do not make me come up there and pull you out of bed! You have one minute, get a move on!”

‘Great’, thought Lily, ‘just what I wanted to do on a Saturday, spend my time around a bunch of dirt and bugs.’ She stretched her arms above her head with a huge yawn. One foot at a time, Lily dragged herself out of bed. She sighed and started to get ready for the day. Lily dawdled as she ate her breakfast, dreading the day ahead. She sulked as she walked outside to the car. Lily’s mother was an avid gardener and loved everything that was green. Lily, on the other hand, hated pretty much everything involved with gardening and plants.

“Why did you feel the need to bring me with you today, Mom? I’m already sweating, and it is barely 8 o’clock in the morning,” Lily complained to her mother.

“Mrs. Hoover asked for our help and it is the neighborly thing to do,” her mother replied. “I also thought it would be a great opportunity for you to spend some time outside this summer… rather than being holed up in your room playing video games all day,” her mom said, quickly mumbling the last part under her breath.

Lily rolled her eyes. “Fine. But do not even think about asking me to touch any worms or bugs we see.” Lily shuddered at the thought of the creepy crawlers that might be looming in the garden.

When Lily and her mother arrived, Mrs. Hoover was already there. Her ginormous, bright red sun hat was glaring in the sun. Lily chuckled at how ridiculous Mrs. Hoover’s hat looked. Her mother flashed her a glare to behave as they got out of the car.

“Andrea,” Mrs. Hoover called out to Lily’s mother, “I am so glad you could make it!”

Lily’s mother smiled and waved at Mrs. Hoover’s greeting.

“Hello Lily! It is nice to see you too,” Mrs. Hoover added.

Lily replied with a forced smile and a wave, thinking about how she would rather be any place else.

Lily’s mother and Mrs. Hoover started chatting about the different types of fruits and vegetables that were going to be planted in the community garden. Lily was more focused on kicking a rock than listening to the talking, which slowly faded to mumbling in the background. Lily’s focus was broken when her mother pushed a pair of gardening gloves right in front of her face. Lily looked at her mother with irritation. She pulled on the gardening gloves with a deep sigh and was once again distracted by Mrs. Hoover’s bright red sun hat.

“Lily,” Mrs. Hoover called to get her attention, “We are going to have you start with poking holes in this trough for the squash seeds. Does that work for you?”

Lily replied with a nod and headed over to the dirt patch designated for the squash seeds. Mrs. Hoover kneeled down next to Lily and started to explain how the seeds should be planted. She first poked a small hole with her index finger, and then continued to make holes down the whole length of the dirt patch, each a few inches apart.

“First, you are going to have to make enough holes to cover this entire patch of dirt, just like I showed you. Then,” Mrs. Hoover paused to grab an open package of squash seeds, “You are going to place one seed in the hole and cover it back up with the dirt. Do you think you can do that?”

Lily answered, “Yes, I think I can handle that.”

Lily secretly thought to herself, ‘This is going to take me years to plant all of the seeds. This is so tedious.’

She got to work poking holes in the dirt with her gloved fingers. Mrs. Hoover stood behind her to make sure she was doing it correctly, but eventually left to start planting something else. The whole time Lily was poking holes and planting the seeds she hoped and prayed that no bugs would come near her. She eventually finished planting the seeds in the patch of dirt.

Lily turned and asked her mom, “I’m done. Is it time to go now?”

Lily’s mom laughed. “No, Lily, it is not time to go. We still have more fruits and vegetables to plant. Here, why don’t you go over to that plot of dirt and start planting some strawberry seeds, just like you did the last ones.”

Lily groaned and walked over to the patch of dirt. As she was planting the strawberry seeds, a gigantic bumblebee flew at Lily’s face. She shrieked and sprinted away from the bee.

“I hate gardening! I hate bugs! I do not understand the purpose of creating this stupid garden. It is too hot to spend all day in the dirt surrounded by disgusting bugs,” Lily screamed at her mother.

Lily looked over to see Mrs. Hoover chuckling softly at what Lily had just said. Lily glared at Mrs. Hoover, not understanding what she thought was so funny.

“Lily come take a walk with me,” asked Mrs. Hoover. Lily cautiously walked over to Mrs. Hoover and followed her down the rows of dirt patches.

“Do you know why I wanted to create this garden?” Mrs. Hoover asked Lily.

Lily shook her head no.

“I wanted to create this garden to give back to those around us who are less fortunate, those who can’t afford to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. By planting this garden, we are helping those around us and creating change through good deeds.” Mrs. Hoover stopped to look at a few patches of healthy plants with yellow and orange flowers blooming from the stems. “I planted these seeds a few weeks ago. Look at them closely. Do you see the bees on the flowers?”

Lily nodded her head yes, worried that the bees would fly at her.

“Those bees play an essential part in making fruits and vegetables grow. We need the bees to pollinate the plants in order for the plants to grow food. I want you to remember that even the smallest of things make an impact on what is around them.”

Lily and Mrs. Hoover walked back and continued to plant the seeds. Eventually, all of the patches of soil had been planted and watered. Mrs. Hoover smiled with an accomplished look on her face. Squash, strawberries, peppers, beans, corn, carrots, and blackberries were just some of the fruits and vegetables they had planted that day. Lily’s mother and Mrs. Hoover exchanged goodbyes. Lily gave an exhausted wave to Mrs. Hoover as they got in the car and drove home.

Lily continued to go back to the community garden every Saturday. She learned to love and appreciate everything about gardening, even the bugs. Whenever Lily works in the garden, she thinks of Mrs. Hoover’s reminder that the smallest things make big impacts to the world around them.


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Humanizing Science through STEAM Challenges Copyright © 2021 by E.J. Bahng and John M. Hauptman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.