Volunteering with Edible Avalon

By: Avalon Housing

It’s almost summer, and that means planting days at Edible Avalon, Avalon Housing’s community-building garden program.

I got involved with Avalon at a time in my life when I felt out-of-place. I was working for a custom home builder in Ann Arbor, and I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that I didn’t belong there. So I started exploring outside my job, thinking I’d volunteer somewhere. I happened to read about Avalon – how they provide affordable housing to people who need it, and provide the supports to help them stay housed – and I wanted to learn more. In the spring of 2016 I signed up for one of Avalon’s property tours.

From the moment I walked into Avalon’s offices, I felt at home. After I toured Avalon’s properties and met staff and tenants, I decided to volunteer with their gardening program, Edible Avalon. In May 2016, I helped with the group planting day at Arbordale apartments and continued to tend the garden beds throughout the summer.

I liked getting my hands in the dirt. As Rachel, the then- Edible Avalon coordinator, once said of gardening, maybe I needed to “get dirty to get clean.” And I really liked the tenants I met. Some days it was too hot to do anything but water. Rarely was it too hot for people to come out and spend time with me while I weeded. The folks who lived at Arbordale were warm and welcoming. They invited me in to see their newly-remodeled units or their artwork on their walls, or to use their bathrooms.

Edible Avalon planting day

I’m not sure what I expected from volunteering. But through that experience, words like “affordable” and “need” became real to me again. Having a place to call home and people around you who care – these are true needs, for all of us. Volunteering with Avalon was an opportunity. It woke me up, and it changed for good the way I define “home.”

Interested in learning more about Edible Avalon? Visit us here.

By Marcia Luke-van Dijk

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