The Power of Diversity by Katey Rudd, Cultivator

This week I saw something beautiful in the garden.

I have worked with various community gardens for over six years in different states with communities ranging from upper-income churches to homeless communities to refugees from all over the world. I consider the myriad lessons I have learned from each of these groups among my most valuable possessions. The lessons are as diverse as the teachers who rendered them.

This week volunteers and I spent time starting seeds, potting up adolescent plants, breaking up winter ground and turning in cover crops. As we worked side by side I was struck by the richness of our work; by how this new group of people offered yet another lesson in listening, awareness—the beauty of assorted humans coming together to sow love and sweat into a singular labor while laughing and sharing their stories in ways linear work scenarios don’t often afford.

There was a moment I stepped back and watched three different generations interact, teaching and helping each other.

I tend to focus on the importance of diversity and relish difference. For some reason as I observed us, I saw similarity in a more substantive and interconnected way than I ever have. I saw how a community garden is a great equalizer. The garden is not a respecter of race, gender, economic status, religious belief, sexual persuasion, species, etc. It is ecology on a spiritual level: soil, invisible microorganisms, plants, animals, insects, water, humans all working together, consciously or unconsciously, to create life in a symbiotic way. In a sense, the garden is a container that grows what’s put into it. Diversity strengthens ecology tremendously and culminates in a shared “sameness” that creates higher health, potential, and beauty.

This week I could see the “sameness” and simply felt grateful that I get to be part of it.

We welcome volunteers every Tuesday from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Come learn, teach, take food home, and grow food for neighbors in need. For more information contact Katey Rudd at

Check out happenings at the Haw Creek Commons this Spring!


Haw Creek Commons