Tender care: keeping CSI green during the pandemic

Nikky Manfredi

Nikky Manfredi

Communications & Content Specialist

What is it we like to say when the snow is (hopefully) gone and the April sun hits? Oh, right! “Spring has sprung!” With greenery making a comeback after a distinctly isolating winter, it feels like the right time to spotlight a few of CSI’s unsung heroes: our plant caregivers, Veronika and Deenie. Over the last year, they have spent many hours watering, pruning and taking care of CSI’s countless plants, and their work should not go unnoticed. Let me explain why.

Plant from the Plant Drive sitting on windowsillThere are many plant parents at CSI. Our plants, like our pets, have a way of adopting us. Take the twenty-five year old grapefruit tree that spends its winters in the Annex office, for example. Plants have a storied history here (more on the grapefruit tree below). In fact, we once did a Plant Drive in 2011 as a fundraiser to grow CSI, but that’s another story. Suffice to say, leaving our beloved coworking space deserted was difficult enough without the added melancholy of bidding our dear plants adieu. That’s when Veronika, our Greenery PECA, and Deenie, our CSI Annex Caretaker, stepped in. 

And while a fervent attachment to a few succulents may seem silly to some, in a year of incredible uncertainty, ambiguity, and loss, it’s comforting to know at least some things are being taken care of. Thank you, Veronika and Deenie!

 

Plant from Plant Drive sitting on deskSo, what does caring for an entire building’s plants look like? 

Veronika is our Greenery PECA. A PECA is a Project Exchange Community Animator (you can learn more about that on the Exchange Animator page). She is in charge of “greening” our space through special projects and initiatives. Deenie calls her “our resident plant lover extraordinaire” and for good reason: Veronika can often be found tending to her planted trees in the alley or feeding the indoor plants worm compost she makes from all of our food waste.

 

Turns out, taking care of an entire building’s plants in a pandemic requires a whole new level of commitment as it makes for a pretty intense fitness regime. Veronika told us she’s “grateful that despite my gym being closed for months and months, I am able to get exercise lugging water up and down five flights of stairs regularly.” When you put it that way, we’re very grateful, too. 

Deenie is our tried and true CSI Annex Caretaker. She was kind enough to take over for Veronika from March to September in the early stages of the pandemic. Her master key certainly proved useful! Many CSI members would have lost their personal office plants otherwise, not to mention a few of CSI’s rather finicky hibiscus trees Deenie says she had to save. 

Yucca Tree on second floor of Annex officeAny Favourites? 

Deenie admits, “my favourite plant is a twenty-five year old grapefruit tree I grew from a seed. My daughter and I loved to peel and  eat grapefruit like an orange. We were sharing one when she was nine. We found a seed that had a little green trying to poke through. Now, this tree is too large to winter inside my home but enjoys a sunny welcome inside the Whole Note office on [the CSI Annex building’s] fifth floor. 

Veronika says, “my favourite is the Yucca tree in the second floor meeting room that was donated by Trainer’s Gym. It has branches winding in many directions, crossing over and under each other. Members have suggested I cut the branches and re-root them so that they can grow straight, but I tell them that the tree reminds me of the CSI logo in its defiant messiness. Sometimes life is not linear, and is a bit haphazard, but that is what makes it interesting. The tree is a reminder that the path to a goal is important, not just the goal; that adaptability is of value, and that life can take you many ways before you flourish.

Hanging vines in the CSI Annex location.

Veronika’s words are a helpful reminder as we make our way through the third wave of the pandemic. It’s comforting to know that eventually when the path is cleared and we can finally re-enter the space, our community will find a lot of life, fresh-faced and blooming, ready to welcome us back. We all have Veronika and Deenie to thank for that.

 

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