Mission Moment: Reanna Hawkins, Learning Garden Coordinator

Mission Moments are stories we share from the field to inform, inspire and motivate. These moments remind us all just how lucky we are to be able to do this important work.

Q: Give us a little background for those folks who have not been lucky enough to meet you. How did you get here?

A: I was talking to a classmate at NCCU how much I missed the garden volunteering I used to do in Detroit. She told me she knew just the place for me to go. So in June of 2016 I first stepped foot into the Camden Garden. After that I kept volunteering, and that became an internship, which became a part-time job, and now I manage the garden full time!

Q: Do you have a Mission Moment ready to share?

A: I do … I have two actually. The first was the day a young man, maybe 20, wandered into the garden. He said “what’s going on over here?” And I said—what’s going on? This is a community garden that’s here for all the neighborhood to enjoy! Then he said to me “wow, I’ve lived here my whole life, but I never knew this garden was here … it’s beautiful. This community deserves to have something this beautiful.” And I was just really touched to know that all this work is so appreciated and supported.

Q: And the second interaction that is important to you?

A: The second was last summer, and one of our community gardeners was having some health problems. She was having a hard time finding foods she could tolerate without pain. One of the few things she could eat were the Sungold tomatoes she was growing. So all summer, she would come and harvest those tomatoes and snack on them through the day. She grew sweet potatoes, too, because she could eat those without pain as well.

Q: How did witnessing that affect how you view your work?

A: Well, it was eye-opening. Here we are helping to provide these fresh, wholesome foods that are really important for people’s well-being … for reasons I never even imagined!  These are the things I think back on, when it’s cold outside, or rainy, and I kind of don’t feel like heading out into the garden. These are the things that keep me going.

 Inter-faith Food Shuttle. June 2017 (photo by Sara D. Davis)