An Interview with a new old MG


  Natasha Sanchez is fairly new to the Multnomah Chapter, having taken the training last year, but she volunteered for two years in California before moving to the rainy state. We caught up with her at the Demo Garden where she has been helping both with the existing garden and the new annex.

eNews: What convinced you to spend all that money on the training?
Natasha Sanchez: After volunteering in California (where I grew up) and trying to get into the program there for two years, I decided to spend triple the fee last year to guarantee an education in the program in a whole new environment. What was I thinking you ask? Well turns out I actually came back here to settle and it all worked out. Since a Sociology major can't seem to find a career these days, I figured a $400-ish registration fee vs. a $30,000 or more college fee might head me in a better direction to fulfill my desires in life. Community involvement is much more fun.

eN: What did you learn that surprised you the most?
NS: Nobody in the class knows what a brown widow is! They are all over my house and garden back home in California.

eN: After paying money and studying for weeks, are you ok with the volunteer requirement?
NS: The volunteer requirement was a bit intense for me last year. Working an overtime and double time job makes it a bit difficult to complete. However, the requirement for the years following don't seem too bad.

eN: If you could invent a new volunteer activity for MGs, what would it be?
NS: I am not sure if this already exists, but I would like to see demonstrations on how to cook the vegetables we suggest to grow to all communities. Growing up, in my culture, there wasn't an abundance of vegetables on our plate. Plus, some of these North American vegetables don't exist in other countries. Like parsnips, what does that go good with on a plate? What is kale? Can you name it in Spanish? Because I can’t. So it would be great to teach other cultures how to prepare them and include them in their garden plan. Also, I am not supposed to say this technically, but I wish we could discuss herbal remedies. I’d like to connect with Native American communities in this area of Oregon to teach a class on how they traditionally use native plants for food, and how to tend to them. It would be amazing to give them credit for that in the handbook as well, but hey, we aren’t in charge of that.

eN: What’s the biggest difference between the MG program here and in California?
NS: A big difference in California is that it is very competitive and a lot of people apply each year across all ages and only some are accepted. You have to show proof of volunteering and knowing a good amount about gardening BEFORE applying to the program. I had experience in tending and growing crops abroad in South America, but they didn't count it!  Also, you don't get credit for doing any physical gardening, only teaching hours.

eN: How much is eNews paying you for this story? Will it make you rich and famous?
NS: One hundred million dollars. It will make me miserable.

eN: What do you think will be different for you as an MG?
NS: I think I will learn how to face my fears of public speaking and will make my future garden more beautiful! (I hope).

eN: Any advice for someone unsure about signing up for next year’s training?
NS: I’m stuck on this question!

eN: We’ll let you off on that question. You’ve given us a lot to ponder! Thanks! (and by the way, the Spanish for Kale is "col rizada", but I can't say it as well as Ms. Google.)