Friday, September 4, 2009

The Dream Garden... again

Okay, Rosa brought it up in her blog and I'll continue the story for those who don't visit her site. But you should. Visit her site, I mean.

She has a lovely blog full of lovely garden pictures and I feel like I'm getting to know some of her extended family. It's not that my own family isn't big enough, but you can never really have too much family or friends, right?

And she keeps me in check a little. She does everything the right way and I just do things "well enough". While I quickly serge the edges of my hankies made from scrap flannel, she handstitched a beautiful hem around pretty flowery cotton. While I wing it and make some respectable jam without a recipe, she made beautiful peach raspberry jam that took until the wee hours in the morning but could win prizes. Occasionally I have to know when it's perhaps dangerous to wing it (like risking your family with food poisoning) and when you can get enjoyment out of doing things a little slower and learning to do things the proper way.

Maybe we're a good balance for each other.

Back to the garden. I haven't mentioned the community garden for a while because except in the mind of the city coordinator, it hasn't been a steady thing.

We're both busy with our own gardens. I'd love more space and that's my motivation for the garden. I'd love to be able to grow all the vegetables we need to get through the winter. I love the satisfaction of pickling and making jam from fruit I grew myself and filling the freezer with little personal-sized packages of veggies. I love knowing where it came from.

My kids don't always love eating it. But that's no different than grocery food. And growing it has less financial risk than heating up expensive food and then throwing it away.

I also love the idea of passing on knowledge to my kids. Maybe things won't be much different in their future and they can get good jobs and buy everything they need. But maybe they will need it. Maybe the Peak Oil believers are right and we won't always have access to fresh fruit from California. Then they'd better know how to preserve the raspberries, apples and rhubard that we can grow.

And I'd like them to enjoy the process, not be overwhelmed by it.

Other kids too, the ones who pick my raspberries because they live in apartments and don't have access otherwise. How will they learn? Will they know where food comes from and how it got in the can? And will they be able to afford healthy food any other way?

We're not a well-off neighbourhood. We have the demographics of an innercity neighbourhood while not physically being there. People send their kids to school hungry and "forget" to pack lunches for them. They get their daily hugs from the lunchroom supervisors and teachers instead of at home. It's one of the things I liked about that job, but it was also heartbreaking to think about.

Wow. I'm verbose today. And easily sidetracked.

Okay. We are on again.

We were stumped with the issue of getting water to our chosen plot of land. And unexpectedly the neighbours weren't actually in favour of us "being in their backyard". They don't like the homeless sleeping in the green space, but they didn't want gardeners being in the plot either. I don't understand the attitude, and was shocked to hear that. I thought everyone would like a beautiful garden near their house. I thought they would welcome the activity, the friendly gardeners, the happy voices of our children. We don't even want to garden in a hostile environment. How does it "build community" if we introduce a rift? We haven't overcome that yet.

So we chose another plot of land. The neighbours were city employees and in favour of sharing their space. There was rainwater to be had from their large roof. There was a treed area that could be made into a beautiful place for kids to play, employees and gardeners to have lunch and coffee. All was perfect.

But the land is for sale now and they can't agree on a price. And the city (once they purchase it) may have to develop a portion of it.

So it was off. I was surprisingly relieved. Free to continue my own personal desire for space. I was about to put fliers in the senior neighbours mail boxes asking if they were interested in letting me garden in their unused veggie plots in exchange for produce. An easier option than the community garden, but doesn't build community much. Doesn't educate neighbourhood children or produce beauty out of a boring grassy public space.

Now we're on again. The local revitalization group is very inspiring and excited and has access to funds. Maybe the water issue isn't really an issue. With the help of the local newsletter and the community league and the revitalization staff, maybe we can overcome the attitude of the immediate neighbours.

And maybe we can start small and grow every year. I'm okay with that. I'll keep you posted.

If you want reading material about community gardens, here's an excellent article from Calgary's Julie vanRosendaal. Calgary is much more progressive about community gardening, but it sounds like there is room for improvement there as well. Edmonton is a bit of a fight, but we do have support from people with the ability to reach strings and pull. I think it might actually happen for us. Maybe next year, or even the year after, but it's not a dead project anymore.


Rosa said...

Great Post Ev!
And I do think we are a good balance for each other.
You remind me that often, my desire to do things 'right' can mean that I end up not doing it at all!
After all your hanky box is full and I still have many more to sew before I have enough to get through the winter! :)
I'm looking forward to the community garden but I have also realized that it doesn't have to be perfect right of the bat.
Good things need time to grow. :)

Coralee said...

I envy your love for gardening... I love gardens, just not working in them. You have a great sense of community and I hope the garden happens and will help foster that. Great job.

Tamara Jansen said...

I've enjoyed getting to know you too through your blog! Just good enough is fine with me with most things. I buy store bought rice krispie squares and oreo cookies instead of doing my own's good enough.

I am not able to take this stance, though, when making a presentation to a customer. Then it has to be PERFECT. :)