What’s New–Plants & People

by Sharada Macdonald

Comings & Goings

Many of you have already noticed that I have a new name (Sharada). Now, I now have a new title at Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, too: Business Administration Manager. This new name, just like my new Sanskrit name, is to make the outside match the inside. I started at SVA as an assistant helping out with the Amaya® Yoga Products and Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center.

Working at the Ashram every day, I saw how much Swamiji did (and continues to do) to serve Baba by supporting and serving all of us. Her dedication opened me to want to do anything I can to support her vision and mission of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. Every time I have seen her (every single time!), she is working to serve and support us. So, any time I could do more, I did. And being steeped in the flow of Grace makes doing anything easy! As SVA has continued to grow, I’ve been blessed with many new opportunities to serve Swamiji, the teachings and you. This new title names these specific ways that I am so blessed to serve.

As spring continues to unfold into the promise of summer, I am pleased to welcome a new gardener to SVA, Greg Hesselton. It’s easy to see how much he loves the earth—I have yet to see Greg (whose first day at the Ashram was on his birthday!) in shoes. Sweet & gentle, he appreciates the beauty of the native flora & fauna. He even asked if we could leave flowering weeds an extra day or two before pulling them so the bees could enjoy them. A camp counselor who lives in a minimal cabin for half of the year, Greg spends his mornings with camp kids and most afternoons caring for the Ashram grounds. Thank you, Greg!

Veggie Garden

Surprise! Wintered-over carrots

Surprise! Wintered-over carrots

Greg, who I mentioned above, has spent the last two weeks preparing the three raised garden beds that went in last year and has been planting baby veggies in them (more on that soon including a picture of Swamiji with a wagon!). Deep gratitude goes out to Dean Cilley, who helped build the beds, planted seeds and cared for last year’s veggies. Dean’s agricultural background and care has resulted in lots of delicious Ashram-shakti-filled veggies last year and—surprise!—a crop of recently discovered wintered-over carrots that were planted last fall. Much to the Ashram residents’ and chefs’ delight, they will be ready to harvest and enjoy soon! Thank you, Dean!


Now, here’s that picture of Swamiji with a wagon that I promised:

Swamiji loads the wagon with baby veggies.

Swamiji loads the wagon with baby veggies.

Baby veggies in their new home

Baby veggies in their new home

Swamiji sent me an email last week asking if we could play hooky for an hour or two and go get baby veggies from Jane’s Flower Patch (“Isn’t that a cute name?” Swamiji remarked. “She has 27 different kinds of vegetable starts!”). Swamiji and I pulled a wagon in between the rows of plants, and Swamiji loaded it with zucchini, yellow squash, green & yellow bell peppers, onions, a jalapeno and a banana pepper, Early Girl and Roma tomatoes, basil, flatleaf & curly parsley, cilantro, green & red lettuces, and swiss chard. Finally, Swamiji selected marigolds to ring the beds (in addition to being holy in India, they keep away pests and bunnies). You’re not playing hooky if you don’t get a treat, so we ended our veggie trip with a mango water ice (a Mid-Atlantic delicacy) and took the babies home for Greg to plant.

Now that Greg has finished planting all the baby veggies, he will build a fence around the raised beds to protect them from critters. Stayed tuned for pictures of the fence and Ashram harvest later this year!

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