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Peruggi Gets Her Hands Dirty
Peruggi misses the luxuries of the Conservancy's Fifth Avenue offices when she realizes that a gardener's job isn't just planting and pruning. Every morning begins with garbage duty. More than 2,000 tons of garbage are collected each year in the park, and that total includes dog poop. Lots of it.

There's really only one way to dig a hole: with a pick ax and a shovel. But Peruggi, who grew up in New York City's concrete garden, isn't accustomed to such manual labor. Gardener John Heiser shows Peruggi how to reseed a small patch of grass. The hard ground must first be broken up with the pick ax. It's not Peruggi's favorite piece of equipment. She might be tough, New York-born and bred, but when it comes to lifting a heavy pick ax, Peruggi's a wimp. She whines and laments the lack of machines to perform this labor.

"This is a very physical job," explains gardener John Heiser. "If you don't like physical labor or can't do it, you can't do this job." The weather is crisp and cool during Peruggi's work week, and the work is indeed demanding. The gardening crews don't let up on Peruggi—she swings pick axes, seeds grass, and plants shrubs and gets to experience the hard labor she so dreaded. Pausing to examine the blisters on her hands, Peruggi figures she can at least use her work experience to raise money.

"I'm gonna have to go out and show my hands, the calluses, and say, see, we need your help," she says.

Next: Not Just Planting and Pruning >>>

Planting trees in the park.
 
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