I didn’t know what to expect when I went to meet my friend in town. She has a project for her charity organization: to create a community garden in an unused piece of land which everyone in the nearby area can enjoy and learn about plants, vegetable growing and healthy living. As a gardener-in-training, I’m excited to be helping with her project.
We walked up to the plot to take a look at it. Her plan is to leave two thirds of it more or less as it is, as a wildlife area. The other part will be raised vegetable beds, with a polytunnel and picnic area.
In a local cafe she generously bought me a cup of tea and we discussed what to tell people about the project. English is her second language. She speaks it very fluently, but since it’s my first language I was useful for making sure it sounded like plain English.
We both have Auditory Processing Difficulties and it amazes me how she copes with talking in a different language from her own. She told me once, that (like I used to) sometimes she just pretends to understand what people say. In the cafe, there was distracting music. We both had some hearing misunderstandings, but we got there. Once we had something written down, she suggested we talk to people in the local area today, as part of a Community Consultation. We rehearsed on the way to the plot, concentrating so hard on remembering that we accidentally walked down the wrong road.
We decided to talk to people together, for solidarity and because two pairs of slightly troublesome ears are better than one.
We were walking up the start of one woman’s driveway when we got nervous and decided to practice again. Back down at the gate, we heard the front door open, and realised that our first person was watching us through a hole in the hedge. That kicked off our first, slightly awkward try at Community Consulting. After a few houses, it got easier.
I did a lot of the talking. The novelty of being able to chat to people thanks to my improved hearing hasn’t worn off yet, and I enjoyed explaining about the project and asking them what they thought about it. People were friendly and happy to discuss plans for the project. Almost everyone seemed to like the idea of the patch of land being turned into a community vegetable garden.
We went around maybe 20 houses, writing down names, addresses and Yes or No. There was a very reassuring amount of Yesses.
By the end of the afternoon I was glad to be going home to get out of the winter cold, but I felt very happy to have achieved something I could never have managed before.