Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Beyond Community Gardening

In my town, there is a new community garden, the vision of one woman. The city razed an empty house on her block in this working class area and the woman and her husband bought the empty lot. I got involved because storm water was eroding the bare earth and I am the garden coach/consultant for the city's rain garden program.

Last April, she requested an on-site visit and we walked through the muddy lot and she shared her ideas. Before I left, I did a rough sketch of the site: entry with a curving walk behind prairie plants and past the rain garden into an area of raised beds for vegetables. She called me in May for encouragement and then again in July inviting me to stop by to see the High Street Gardens.

I was blown away!

This is the entry. Not only did she plan, prepare, plant and tend the garden, she made signs for visitors. Another sign tells neighbors to walk in, enjoy and pick the herbs and vegetables. This woman and her garden feeds the bodies and souls of her neighbors. Last spring, she was especially interested in reaching the elderly and the children.

Next the path goes by the rain garden, supported by a program through the city. Her plants are thriving and already starting to bloom, such as:

Joe-Pye weed,

blue lobelia, and


Across from the rain garden is a pumpkin patch, then sunflowers screen this bird bath bordered by a black drain pipe decorated by the neighborhood children. The bird bath was donated by Stuckey's greenhouse.

Then come the raised beds, decorated by the children.

The beds and the fence line are filled with vegetables, herbs and berries, ready to be picked by any neighbor when ripe. As a gardener, I noticed and appreciated the compost pile in the back of the lot.

And annuals are mixed into the beds for the pure joy of it. The coleus/sweet potato bed was donated and planted by Stuckeys. The galvanized tub planter was found by a neighbor and donated. The neighborhood is starting to understand that this was created just for them and are slowly becoming involved. First the kids and now the adults. But this one woman still drags her hose over from her house to water every morning during this intense heat wave (and pays for the water and property taxes.).

Community gardens are usually publicly owned and the produce belongs to those who work in it. This garden is privately owned and the produce goes to the public. One woman with a vision and this is just the first year. The perennials will only become more spectacular and she is talking about putting in grapes or fruit trees. I am forcing myself not to use an excess of exclamation marks.

(Forgive the quality of the pictures. I was not expecting this so only had my iPhone and it was in the middle of the day.)

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