A lot of people have gardens back home, whether it be an elaborate collection of herbs in your backyard or a single, impossible-to-kill cactus sitting on a windowsill. For me, I had to leave a full balcony of succulents behind when I came to Hopkins. Sure, they were slightly overgrown, a little bit unruly and full of spiders, but they were mine, and I had watched all of them grow from seedlings.
The point being is that for those who can relate to the love and care I harbor for my plants, our campus doesn’t lack in greens — if you look up on your way to class, chances are you’ll be faced with shadows of tree leaves cast by the morning sunlight — but sometimes, that may still not be quite enough.
The Blue Jay's Perch offers more. A sustainable club that provides the community with garden plots one can reserve, students can volunteer at the Perch every Sunday. Sure, dragging yourself out of bed at 9:45 a.m. to get to Barnes & Noble, where the group meets to walk the 10 minutes to the plot, can be difficult. Understandable. Sleep is a hot commodity. But my roommate and I, one of the firsts to groan at any proposal that involves being awake before 10 a.m., were up bright and early and the last to leave the plot.
My roommate is a cooking aficionado and always on the hunt for herbs or spices to cook with, her eyes usually lingering on the onions showcased at the FFC. But last weekend, she could do more than pine; we had the opportunity to pick fresh parsley, wrangle with weeds and pick bouquets of flowers. People were leaving with armfuls of flowers, small tomatoes, peppers and more.
As the volunteers were divided into groups — a handful of people cutting down sunflowers, another wrestling with weeds that have grown way too comfortable during the pandemic — the picnic table by the entrance began to fill up. Peppers of varying spice levels lay in a neat array of red and green as the last of the apples and grapes sat beside them, earning some desirous stares. As the visit neared its end, volunteers and visitors lingered about, sorting through the piles of extra gloves and building bouquets under the cool shade of the trees.
We chatted on the walk back, settling into the type of satisfaction that comes from physical work, the type of tiredness you can embrace. We made plans for next weekend and said our goodbyes at the same Barnes & Noble we met at that morning. We were slightly sunburnt, tired, devoured by mosquitos but extremely happy nonetheless. Strangers stared as we walked back carrying our basil, flowers and fruit. And it happens every single Sunday with no regrets!
Maybe next week, like us, you’ll struggle to open the door to your home because your arms are just too full of flowers and herbs. Or maybe, like my roommate, you’ll rush into the kitchen, excited to cook up some new recipes picked fresh off the ground. You can’t go wrong with the Blue Jay's Perch on a Sunday morning.