Every Wednesday, around 20 helpers come to Keppel Croft Gardens, spread across the 1.6 hectares, weed, mow the lawn, plant trees, and afterwards disappear. Every week they help Bill and Dawn Loney, the owners of the beautiful garden. They all support voluntarily. A “Random Act of Kindness”.
Grinning, Ken, Trevor and Grace are paddling up the long driveway to Keppel Croft Gardens. The sun is burning on this Wednesday morning, lets trees cast shadows on the way, there is a light breeze. At the end of the flowers and shrubs lined path there is a big hello. There is a hug and a pat on the shoulder, people laugh, joke and generously apply sunscreen and mosquito spray. Then the helpers are ready, lined up in a semicircle in front of the light blue woodshed, gloves clippers at hand and curiously looking at Bill’s handwritten to-do list.
It’s Volunteer Wednesday at Keppel Croft Gardens. It’s a bit like with the brownies: Volunteers come together from all around, let Bill Loney explain themselves the tasks of the day, find themselves in small groups together and pour out into all parts of the extensive garden. Then lawn mowers are filled with gasoline and hedge trimmers are provided, trees are planted and weeds are plucked, paths are cleared with sawdust and flower pots are moved to new places. And around noon, when the volunteers disappear again, Keppel Croft, as if by magic, has once again become more paradisiacal.
Bill and Dawn Loney bought the property that is now Keppel Croft Gardens many years ago. From a gravel pit, they have designed a paradisaically beautiful garden that attracts visitors from all over the world every day. But such a garden causes work. A lot of work, at 1.6 hectares (this equals about 2.5 soccer fields). Many years ago, the couple launched Volunteer Wednesday. Every Wednesday volunteers from the area come togethe. These are friends, neighbors, acquaintances, many retirees, few of them are still in business life. They all provide their labor and time. Voluntarily. Every Wednesday. A special Random Act of Kindness.
Grace MacPherson-Granger has been with the group from the beginning. Her parents owned the cottage, which is right across the street from Keppel Croft. She has known Bill and Dawn for years. “The two are such nice people. So generous and giving”, she says. Sometimes she comes by independently from Volunteer Wednesday, picks a corner in the garden and starts weeding. She likes to support the couple in their mid-seventies, she is happy if she can help.
Volunteer Trevor Falk loves to work in the garden. He once owned a property south of Big Bay. During a choir rehearsal he learned from Grace about the wonderful group of people who get together on Wednesdays and about how dear Bill and Dawn are. Ever since he comes along with his wife Liz. “It’s a very nice thing for a senior to come here,” he says. Bill knows he can count on Trevor regardless of Wednesday. “I offered to help on other days as well,” Trevor says. Simply because he likes the Loneys. Everyone knows that two people can’t handle the gardening alone – despite the support of WWOOFers
This Wednesday, Trevor is working with Em Hofstede on a concrete post for the entrance. Em doesn’t actually come from the area, but lives as an artist and teacher in the Arctic. She visits with friends on Keppel Croft’s northern border, heard about Volunteer Wednesday and set off on her way. “It’s always nice to see something new and learn,” she says.
Some, such as Robert Emers, miss gardening. “I used to own a house with a garden, but I sold it and moved into an apartment.” At Keppel Croft, he could continue to pursue his passion without having too much responsibility for his own garden. Barbara Eastwood agrees: “We can work here for a few hours and then leave.”
As different as the motives are, all the helpers have one thing in common: they help out of deep connection to Bill and Dawn, generously offer their work and time. A wonderful way to just be friendly.
Weed & Feed
But for all, the whole thing has an additional component: exchange, cohesion and support. “We met people we would never have met otherwise,” says Susan Hindle. Dawn has also gotten up early this morning. While the volunteers are in the garden, she and her Horticultural student Nolwenn Claudic from France – also a volunteer – are in the kitchen. She fills wraps, cuts fresh fruit – and there’s birthday cake for Bob, one of the volunteers. Dawn prepared some cookies days ago. It is important to her that the group gets fed well after work is done. A small reward for the commitment. “Weed & Feed” is what the volunteers call the Volunteer Wednesday. Lunch, news sharing, chatting – that’s an integral part of Wednesday morning’s work for all volunteers. Dawn appreciates the commitment. “It’s amazing how helpful people are in their lives,” she says, appreciatively grateful for the helpers’ support.
For three hours lawn mowers and hedge trimmers rattle in paradise, people laugh, tease each other and sweat. After lunch, the noise disappears. It becomes quiet again in Keppel Croft. The helpers leave the garden laughing. Next Wednesday they will all be back
Random Acts of Kindness
During my travels I have learned two things: 1. Those who have the least often give the most. 2. There are friendly people everywhere. There is always a story behind selfless action. It deserves to be told and collected as Random Acts of Kindness.
Inspired by @TheKindnessGuy