You know you're in community-garden country when Google Maps directs you to the wrong address, only to have the person living there know exactly what you're talking about when you ask, "Is this weed dating?"
After some very specific directions sent me about two miles in the opposite direction, I made it to Earthly Delights Farm, where I was greeted by a feisty German shorthair pointer mix named Ron and a hearty, "Welcome to the farm," from the humans.
This was the fourth installment of the annual event, started by owner Casey O'Leary, giving singles the chance to mingle not over food or drink--or in speedy awkwardness--but while pulling some weeds from the ground. It has nothing to do with doobies, and everything to do with getting dirty with strangers.
Hosted in the vast garden beyond the backyard, weed dating was set amid a nondescript area decorated with a large pile of wood, a trampoline, a riding mower and some mounted moose antlers. I paid my $5 entry fee (perhaps a tactic to "weed out" people who can't come up with $5) to two pleasant ladies sitting at a table, and was given a name tag and a Sharpie.
Each weed-dater wore their name tag along with a corresponding number. Two rows of Mason jars were tagged with those same names and numbers. This way, someone could discreetly leave a message in their crush's jar at the end of the evening.
Far outnumbered by our female counterparts, we fellas rotated rows to meet different ladies for about three minutes each. When we heard the sound of a metal chair being battered by a garden tool, it was time to move on.
This low-pressure atmosphere made it easy to interact despite level of interest, compatibility and in some cases, an obvious age disparity. A pattern of sorts seemed to emerge: The more the individuals had in common, the fewer weeds got pulled. If chemistry was low, the garden looked neat and weed-free.
Mike Rivers, who attended for the second year in a row, embraces the DIY aspect of both love and community gardening: "It's the future. If you don't grow it yourself, ain't nobody else gonna do it for you."
In case you're wondering, the author did find a phone number in his jar when the night was over--to be continued?