Monday, December 14, 2009

Community Gardens

Back when I lived in upstate NY, we had a community garden.  Actually, I can't say "we" since I had my own garden at my home, and only visited the place once or twice to help out a friend.  But "we" as in "our town" had a garden.  Some of the plots were wild and overgrown, others were gorgeously neat and productive.  Most were the latter.  At the time (about 20 years ago) you could buy into the collective for, I think $20/year and plant what you wanted on your small plot.

How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can ImagineSo I'm reading this How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine book (by John Jeavons) and I'm thinking of where I live now, the small condo association that we're trapped in here until March or so, which is, it seems, our set-off date for Colorado.

Since I've been living here, I've had a small container garden on my porch.  Most of the condos here have a tiny backyard, but we're living on a second story flat, and all I have is the porch.  Even so, I've managed some herbs, even a few tomatoes on this 4x8 postage stamp, without getting in the way of our entrance to the door.  Meanwhile, the homeowner's association is super strict (despite the fact that they do a crappy job of keeping up their end of the bargain) and although we allegedly do have a small area we can plant down below, we also have a psychotic downstairs neighbor who thinks she's the only one who gets to make decisions here, so we don't bother with it.

But since I was talking in my last blog about how small a plot you'd need to grow on and be at least partly self-sustaining…

If we were going to stay here (and we're not) it occurred to me that I could talk to the board about starting a small community garden collective.  There's a heck of a lot of wasted space in this place.  Several large grassy places between the buildings which are far wider than the little golf cart they use to tour around the place and conduct repairs.  Almost all the two-story places have a tiny area in front of their houses and a little back yard.

One of my neighbors has a beautiful rose garden in his front space.  The lady (and I use that term loosely) downstairs plants gaudy plastic flowers.  Truth, not fiction.  The majority of places have something in between.  Some have pretty shrubs.  Some have completely ugly and depressed looking shrubs.  Some cacti.  Some even have - yeah really - more plastic flowers. 

When I walk the dog, not one place I've noticed has veggies growing in the front space.  Don't know about the back garden-yards, since they're fenced off, but from what I gather, most are merely slabs of concrete with dirt edging them.  Actually, my girlfriend, who lives next to the lovely man with the roses, did try a couple tomatoes and peas last year.  Gardening's not her thing, but she got some tips and help from Rose-man.

But why not start a collective - to support ourselves in dealing with the homeowner's association who will no doubt find all manner of problems, as they do with most ideas?  Some of us could volunteer to help out the older folks, dig their gardens.  Those of us with less knowledge could learn from those of us with more.

It would be lovely to walk past this place, and instead of seeing ghastly rows of scraggly bushes, find glowing tomatoes, fragrant basil, carrots, peas, pole beans.

It's not a new notion; it's being done in cities worldwide.  If a food crunch comes, it's going to be efforts like this which might keep people from starving to death.  So the real funny thing is why I didn't think of it two years ago or more.

I'll pass my idea along to my girlfriend and Rose-man.  Maybe they can do it.  Me, I'm off to 40 acres in Colorado, and I need to get packing.

No comments:

Post a Comment