Meet Emanuel Kearney
Published Monday, Jan 25, 2016
Emanuel choose SEEDS as a volunteer site because he found it accessible; he simply walked up to the door and they give him ways and times to volunteer.
Emanuel has only been a volunteer at SEEDS for about 6 months. Nevertheless, he has played a crucial role in many of SEEDS’ various projects, including the creation of a chicken coup and cultivating the gardens. Having come from a rural upbringing, Emanuel incorporates his knowledge of the land to improve the gardens and grow responsibly — from spreading mulch, to using compost to enrich the clay soil, to watering only at certain times during the day. Emanuel’s immense knowledge of the land and his commitment to natural cultivation is reflective of one of SEEDS’ primary objectives: teaching people how to treat the land with respect and develop responsible self-sustainability skills. Emanuel says that people in urban settings, such as Durham, are “detached from the land,” and “lack a basic understanding of where food comes from or how to grow it.” SEEDS is working to change that. Through various programs, SEEDS provides an open community space for people to learn how to grow food responsibly and treat the land with respect.
His involvement at SEEDS runs deep – he became an integral volunteer quickly. He did not limit his jobs to merely what he loved, but instead volunteered for whatever was needed. This versatility gave him increased involvement in the organization as a whole because he was consistently ready, willing and able. For a month after a recent planting, SEEDS needed someone to water the sprouting shrubs.Emanuel took on the task, and regularly came at 6 or 7 in the morning and again at night in order to water the plants. Even though these were not regular volunteer hours, he was not deterred and now he can be found working there almost every day.
As Emanuel explained, “We always say “I wish I could help” when we see pictures online, but here [at SEEDS] it’s easy. It’s at home.” And certainly, it is quite easy for people to get involved. Volunteers need no previous knowledge of gardening or extensive training in order to make an immediate impact, rather merely an open mind to learn and a desire to help. Results are tangible and rewarding, and volunteers can be as involved as they please regardless of their history with the program.
While Emanuel’s work changed SEEDS, SEEDS impacted his life as well. Besides altering his pattern of volunteering, SEEDS has transformed his very outlook in day-to-day life. Emanuel explained, “My experience has encouraged me to go into the community and to share the same capacity of the give and take.” Experiences that once seemed foreign and out-of-place no longer ward him away. He currently participates in neighborhood watch and pursues other ventures existing in the community. As he extolled, “Even in the darkest times you could walk by and see people gardening. It was a collective effort and you knew that everyone here is trying to do something good.”