We are now amongst our busiest days of the gardening year when seeds are waiting eagerly to be sown and seedlings are ready to bury their roots into the earth. For some this may be one of the most stressful times of the year; sleepless nights worrying about getting crops into the ground in time yet not enough hands to help with this seemingly overwhelming amount of work.
This is when the ancient Gaelic saying ‘Meitheal’ comes into it’s element. ‘Meitheal’ can have a number of meanings but primarily it describes ‘community co-operative work’ whereby a group of neighbours come together in a community spirit to complete a task or project. It used to be common for Irish emigrants to take leave from work and return to their homeland to help their family and friends with their harvest.
Last month made this concept of ‘Meitheal’ more essential than ever to me when Moy Hill Community garden was involved in the pop-up garden competition in the Clare garden show. It was an event that brought people together through working alongside each other and encapsulated the sense of community spirit perfectly. We always try to emulate ‘Meitheal’ in both the garden and the field by inviting people to come along and help out with what could sometimes become a tedious task. Last month we got all the spuds in the ground in 5 hours where as last year it took us 5 days. Everyone had a great day in the spring sunshine learning how to plant spuds whilst socializing and meeting new people. It illustrated just how much the simple task of growing food can act like a ‘social sap’, bringing strangers and friends alike together, just by working alongside each other for the common good of all involved.
In a world where sometimes we can feel alone in our daily tasks, bearing the weight of the workload ahead on our shoulders, we must try to find small pockets of ‘Meitheal’ in our everyday lives. We are sometimes too proud or independent to ask for help or the community spirit has been lost to years of neglect but it is never too late to rekindle it. Whether it’s helping your neighbour plant some herbs or asking a stranger to help carry your shopping bags, asking for help is not a weakness it is a strength in trusting someone else to help you and guaranteed to put a grin on everyone’s face.
The community garden on Moy Hill is a great place for feeling a sense of ‘Meitheal’. Every Saturday we invite everyone to come along between 11am and 5pm to nurture the garden and help it grow into an amazing community space. From planting flowers to weeding, to painting signs to growing vegetables, try and pencil in a few hours on a Saturday to come along and get involved whether its purely for a chinwag with your neighbour or to get your hands dirty. As Margaret Mead profoundly once said ‘A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has’.