Pivoting in a victory garden


By Marianne Delorey, Ph.D., Executive Director, Colony Retirement Homes 


Marianne Delorey, Ph.D.

 “Pivoting isn’t plan B; it’s part of the process.” –  Jeff Goins


There is an iconic episode of the TV show Friends in which Ross buys a couch and Chandler and Rachel try to help him get the couch up the stairs into his apartment. Anyone who has ever moved a couch can appreciate the humor and reality of their friend “encouragingly” suggesting they pivot to get around the corner.

This scene, although intended to be humorous, has stuck in my head as a realistic statement on how we are living our lives through this pandemic. Many of us thought (way back in March) that our need to adapt might take a week or two; none of us thought we would still be adapting to change well over two months later. And yet, restaurants may have first gone to “closed” and are reopening with a take-out model. Supply chains have been wildly disrupted. First toilet paper, then pet food, and now meat producers are struggling to distribute enough goods to satisfy demand while keeping workers safe. 

In reality, our choices are few. If we cannot acquire what we need, we can make our own, use substitute products, or do without. As Americans, most of us are not well adapted to pivoting. We are so used to having what we need as well as what we want that this is a very difficult endeavor. 

Our elders have more experience. They can better advise us how to do without as they have lived through hard times before. They have also had to sacrifice for the greater good in a way that most generations have not. During both World Wars I and II, for instance, civilians were required to give up products and reuse and recycle items so that the front lines had what they needed. This was especially true for our food supply. Homeowners were encouraged to plant Victory Gardens to take a small amount of pressure off growers so that the army could get needed food to soldiers. It worked. About one third of the vegetables grown during the war effort came from these gardens.

This pandemic is surprising in its twists and turns. We may not need the food from Victory Gardens this year, but planting a garden is a safe bet. Gardening will give us exercise and fresh air, and the worst that can happen is that we plant a garden, are overwhelmed with zucchini, and have to find new friends to give them to.

And to me, one of the better outcomes of such an endeavor is that it might help build community, even when we can’t be together. Let’s take a moment to share resources. Favorite squash recipe? Best way to use a bumper crop of kale? Tips on a favorite garden tool? Best jars for canning? Please write in. So many of us are trying to be upbeat. Gardening is a fantastic way to feel connected to the earth and each other. But for many of us, it has been a long time or we are still developing our skills and we could benefit from those with experience. 

Enjoy your earth for the prizes it will give you this season and all those that remain.

Marianne Delorey, Ph.D. is the executive director of Colony Retirement Homes.  She can be reached at 508-755-0444 or mdelorey@colonyretirement.com and www.colonyretirementhomes.com