On Tuesday mornings for the past 4 weeks or so, I have been donating my time and energy to The Horticultural Society at Mudhen Meat & Greens. Mudhen is an Organic, Sustainable, Farm-to-Table restaurant in the Dallas Farmer’s Market, and their Horticultural Society was founded and implemented by one of the Manager’s at the restaurant named “Tim”!

Mudhen has a multitude of dining spaces both indoor and outdoor, and the focus of the Horticultural Society is to beautify the indoor and outdoor spaces at the restaurant, while also learning about plants & nature. The outdoor dining spaces at Mudhen include their Beer Garden: an uncovered, large patio space that has a great view of the Downtown Dallas area, and their Cow Porch: a covered, smaller patio space that is intimate and beautiful.

The view from the Cow Porch – hence the name!

Initially, the society – or “club” if you will – was started in the Spring of 2017, and the members met once a month in it’s prime during the Spring & Summer months! As things got colder, and the temperatures became inconsistent, the meetings were halted.

Old Collard Greens & Green Onions that are going to be pulled out.
Old Collard Green & Green Onion plants, these guys have been growing for apx. 5-6 months.

At the beginning of November, I left my position at Mudhen, and I found myself with a lot more time on my hands, so I reached out to Tim.

Rosemary on the Cow Porch.

At that time, he explained to me that he was planning the “Winter Garden”, meaning he was thinking about all of the different plants that he wanted to incorporate into the garden space, to replace all of the waning Spring & Summer crops presently there, such as: Eggplant, Summer Squash, Okra, Collard Greens, Green Onions, Garlic, and various other Spring & Summer fruit-bearing plants.

My friend Power showed up to tend to the plants today!

Tim told me that he wanted to incorporate a lot of Swiss Chard, Kale, and other greens along with the existing Mint, Rosemary, & Thyme plants that he intended to leave in the garden space. He explained that he wanted to leave those fresh herbs in the garden because they are “Evergreen plants”- meaning, like the popular “Christmas Trees” that we see during the wintertime, Mint, Rosemary, & Thyme are able to withstand the cold temperatures outdoors and still grow, and prosper.

“Farmer Tim” uprooting some old plants.

During the past 4 weeks, Tim & I worked together pulling, re-planting, and nurturing the plants in the Beer Garden. He also took the time to show me a thing or two about hydroponics, and how to work within a Green House environment. Mudhen has a Green House too – how cool is that?!

Spring Mix in the Green House: this batch is about 7 days old!
Farmer Tim tending to the Spring Mix.

Tim explained to me that the plants that he chose all served a purpose because the Executive Chef and the Bar staff will both able to pull the things that they need from the garden, as they need it.

Power inspecting the Basil plants in the Green House.
This beautiful Basil is used to make fresh Pesto for the kitchen, and to garnish drinks from the bar.
In the Greenhouse: the plants get cold too! Tim explained to me that he has this heater here to help regulate the temperature, to keep the plants comfortable.

This Tuesday was actually going to be the “final” Horticultural Society meeting for the year.

Power working hard, planting these cute little Swiss Chard plants.
Swiss Chard looking happy in its new home.

Tim explained that once we finished planting Swiss Chard on the Cow Porch, and removed all of the hanging planter baskets in the Beer Garden, that there would be no more work to do until Spring 2018!

All finished!
Once we finished up on the Cow Porch, we moved on to the Beer Garden. Tim already gave us our mission: remove the hanging baskets from the rotating conveyor belt that takes the plants all around the beer garden. He called this “winterizing the conveyor belt”.
Phase one of our mission: pull down all of the little hanging baskets, with the help of this ladder!
The conveyor belt takes the hanging plant baskets all around the Beer Garden.
Here’s a wide angle view of the Beer Garden!
More hanging baskets!
Power and I quickly got together a system, and pulled down all of the hanging baskets.
No more hanging baskets!
Once we finished Phase One, we were tasked with emptying all of the planters, and stacking them together, to be stored for the winter.

This took no time  at all, and then we were all done! It was bittersweet, thinking about the fact that there would be no more work to do for months, but then I also realized that I had so much to be grateful for.

I had learned so much invaluable information during my short time volunteering at Mudhen, information that I would be able to incorporate into my future endeavors. It also made me feel so good to think about how beautiful both the Beer Garden and the Cow Porch looked, and knowing that I had a hand to play in this. Tending to and nurturing plants is something that brings me immense joy.

After my experience with the Mudhen Horticultural Society, I was inspired to reach out to existing organizations within the Dallas County area that focus on a connection to nature, education, and children. These three elements are ever present within my reality, and I wish to nurture, and explore these things, to gain some understanding of how they interrelate with myself.

In the meantime, have you ever volunteered your time? If so, when or where? How did you feel afterwards? Comment your thoughts below!

-Michaela ♥