Sunday, October 3, 2010
I live in a condo. By choice. I want to minimize my environmental footprint. And there's also the bit that I do not need more space right now. In my mind more space means more stuff to clean, manage and store. I have already long maxed out the time and energy I want to give to all that part of life.
But there's one really nice thing about having a house. The garden.
So, back in May, when when a flyer appeared in our condo entrance room about a new community garden in our neighborhood, we signed up right away. We were the seventh people to respond.
We just got back from the Peterson Garden's Fall Festival. Back in May, we built 150 raised beds. All were taken by people in the Chicago area. The gardeners ranged from master gardeners to novices, like us. During the summer, the founder of the project, the amazing Lamanda organized a variety of events.
During the 4th of July weekend we dedicated the garden. Lamanda invited me as clergy to deliver the benediction. I've done quite a bit of Interfaith work over the years, but that just meant Jewish-Christian. This was all faiths and the unaffiliated and it was about gardening. This is what I came up with:
"A key tenet of al religions is the value of community. Here, on this ground, we are creating new community. We are creating a unique place in the neighborhood. Perhaps the only place where we are all partners. A place where we meet as equals to work and enjoy the gifts of the earth and summer. This is a holy place"
Lamanda's mother had tended a Victory Garden during WWII. Lamanda did some research in the neighborhood and pinpointed the location of our neighborhood's 1942 Victory Garden . She discovered that the plot was currently vacant. From there it was a short path to re-creating a WWII Victory Garden in 2010
My wife and I planted our seeds in May at the beginning of the weekend which ended with the birth of our daughter. We took pictures with her next to her peers, the seedlings, at five weeks. We've compared their respective growth over the summer and Fall.
The community garden became almost immediately, a place we just loved to go to. We met interesting, kind people. We learned a bit about gardening, what works and what doesn't. (Important stuff like: you need a plastic bucket and loose straw to grow potatoes.) We are still harvesting our tomatoes.
People came from all over the city to garden at the Peterson Garden, the biggest of its kind in the Garden City. Great people - mainly young men and women - volunteered their time to put on several projects, including a 4th of July parade and party and today's fashion show and music festival.
Thank you Lamanda and all the leaders and our fellow gardeners for giving us a great summer of community gardening!