Cultivating Joy

Genet has lived in Minnesota for nine years. She loves her new home but still misses Ethiopia from time to time. Gardening is one thing that has helped her stay connected to her past.

Genet’s grandfather and father farmed. Genet grew up helping them. On rare occasions, she was allowed to eat vegetables while working, which was her favorite part.

Today, gardening makes Genet feel relaxed and happy. She loves planting a seed and waiting to see what will come up and how it will evolve. Each day a plant grows in size, her happiness does the same.

Genet’s husband, who has lived in the United States longer, recently visited Ethiopia and returned with the seeds of a native medicinal plant – a type of squash that is good for back pain. She is excited to get her new seeds in the ground but also enjoys her tomatoes, swiss chard, and basil.

The biggest difference in farming between Ethiopia and here is the weather. Seeing snow for the first time was a big surprise when Genet moved here in December. She enjoys it now, though – it kills insects and bacteria that might get to her plants!

Genet is one of twelve English Learning Center gardeners this year. In addition to the usual plot in the ground, she also has plants in a box, a new part of the school garden program. She loves the community aspect of the garden, seeing everyone work together with the plants.

As for future goals, Genet first wants to help people because it makes her feel good. Other students will attest to her supportive nature; she has watered their plots for them on countless occasions! She also simply aims to be happy. Of course, gardening will continue to provide one pathway for her to meet this goal.