A long-time voice in the climate movement who has dedicated years of work to local groups like MN350, Kate Jacobson joined Gandhi Mahal this spring as our Garden Coordinator. What does this kind of work look like? What new projects are cooking this year? We met her in the garden to find out!
What Are Your Responsibilities as the Garden Coordinator?
One of the goals of my work as the garden coordinator is to help turn the Gandhi Mahal Climate Garden into a place where people gather, be in community, and take local action to model economic and social systems for a livable, just world. My job is to coordinate people getting together, enjoying good food, and digging in the dirt. On a day-to-day level, this means planning garden parties, work days and fall workshops, and turning this into a space where people can read, rest and play.
This garden is also part of a bigger network of farms and of the economic system of the restaurant. One hope is to be able to tell the story of Gandhi Mahal’s vision on a larger scale. In the long run, we want to be able to show our work to other restaurants so that they can learn from our example.
The Gandhi Mahal gardens have been involved in some great programming in the past. Are you planning to do anything new or different this year?
One big question this year is, how can we continue to broaden who is connected to the garden beyond farmers? We’re looking at ways to engage neighbors and others who are involved in the climate movement. Part of this means focusing on building more intentional relationships with neighboring organizations, like youth programs. More than just bringing kids to this garden, this could also mean building direct partnerships between schools and the restaurant. It could mean starting projects at the schools both to give kids the opportunity to dig in the dirt, as well as providing food for their cafeterias. This garden was also recently designated as an International Peace Site, and we should be getting a peace pole this summer.
What led you to take this position?
One way that I find healing and deep happiness is through digging in the dirt. I love planting, weeding, and watching food grow. Being able to walk up to something that’s growing and just eat from it is such a gift to me. When I was approached about this position, I was so happy to be able to have this hands-on work to help balance the other parts of my life. It’s also great to have a job where I can bring my daughter along. She can come with me, and she doesn’t have to be put aside while I’m working.
When you’re building a climate movement, the work can start to feel too abstract and like solutions aren’t in reach. Working in the garden is something very real and tangible that helps reconnect me to what it’s all about. This is it, right here! My belief is that real change is possible if we just slow down and build the models we need for the future.