Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Second Five Minutes of Fame for the SACG and Victory Gardens Everywhere

Although I was still giddy over the lovely article published about the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden on Monday by The Columbus Dispatch, yesterday Neal told me that there had been an official editorial about us published on Friday.  It was, of course, wonderful.  It lauded community gardens everywhere.    Entitled: Victory gardens grow with pride, it begins:

Walk into any of the dozens of community gardens in the city, and it quickly becomes clear that what is being tilled and tended and harvested isn’t just locally produced food.  It’s neighborliness. It’s pride.  It’s a reminder of the good things that can bloom when people set their minds and muscles to it.

Of course, I’m not sure the community garden run by the Redeemer Moravian church will appreciate being referred to as a garden club.  (Compared to the SACG, it’s giant).  Also, I don’t understand why the editorial needed to publicize my age.  That being said, I think readers can take heart that if I can do it, they can, too.

People have been sweet.  One of Mari's neighbors brought her some tomato seedlings for the Garden.  A new Stoddart neighbor stopped by just before it started raining to thank me for our efforts.  One of my neighbors mailed me an extra copy of Monday’s article and the Chair of my church stewardship committee (on which I serve) plans to post it on a bulletin board.  A college friend particularly loved the reference to my stubbornness.  (Since everyone knows my age, you can figure out for yourself how long he has known me).   It reminds me of how Cathy described me last year when we were campaigning for the demolition of the building next door. 

Anyway, this has been a fun week at the SACG.  Sunday night I went over to water and pick some berries.  But you know what they say about best laid plans.  While Barb was tending the Block Watch flower garden, she happened upon a dispute of some sort between a working girl and a large gentleman (who, I was later told, was really intervening on behalf of two other neighborhood working girls).  Barb called 911 and felt compelled to stay with the first girl until they arrived, but she had been on her way somewhere else.  I told her that the girl could come with me to the Garden while we waited on the police.  One of the two other girls felt compelled to tell me – in the nicest possible way --  that I was helping a prostitute (like I couldn’t figure that out on my own).   She also felt compelled to warn the first girl – again in the nicest possible way – that the other girls were carrying weapons and would really mess her up.  When one of them started over to talk to her in the Garden, I had to explain that I didn’t want any trouble and would feel more comfortable if they did not have converse any further.  The police came and I had to explain what I knew, etc.  They finally drove off with her (hopefully to her home on the south side).  For conversation in the meantime, I suggested – as nicely as I could – that there are safer ways to make a living.  She said that she needed to earn money because her child’s father had been injured in an industrial accident.  Barb and I are now waiting for the shoe to drop by way of revenge vandalism from the guy and/or two other girls.   Or maybe not.  We feed everyone, including them, at some point in the summer.

Some neighborhood kids came by and wanted to plant tri-colored carrots in Christen’s plot.  So, we had to dig through the seed container until we found the correct package of seeds.  Then, we marched over to the kids’ section of the Garden and planted and watered the carrots.   That task completed, Christen and I turned to picking berries. Rose came by with more popsicles, but nothing will deter me from picking berries and you cannot do that with one hand.  Christen, on the other hand, is a kid who doesn’t turn down popsicles on hot evenings.  She began to think better of her choice when she saw how far behind me she was in picking berries.

Also, our OSU student gardener, Chelsea, came to weed her plot back into some normalcy.  It’s been hard for her to keep up with the weeds while she’s working two part-time jobs and completing an unpaid internship with Nike (that’s in Oregon, folks).   She was explaining to me that she might be gone for a week if she’s called to Oregon again this week. 

On Tuesday, DeShaun and his cousin came to water his plot.  He seemed pleased with its progress.  Micayla stopped by to water her plot and admire the carrots growing in her bed.  We had an extended conversation about all of the volunteer sunflowers I’ve left to grow in place near the front gate.  Micayla then showed the other girls where she helped me transplant sunflowers in the front flower bed and where we planted cosmos flowers.  But mostly, the kids focused on picking and eating berries.  That’s what they are there for.

When I returned on Thursday, Christen and I continued talking about school.  She’s a straight A student.  I promised to bring her some new books to read, but the only interesting ones I felt I could safely give her from my own library (i.e., no s-e-x or b-a-d language) were The Madman the Professor and Miss Manner’s Guide to Raising Perfect Children.  She has started Madman and likes it.  None of the other kids in the neighborhood have books to read this summer and I could really use more books appropriate for kids between the first and fifth grades. 
Saturday was a long day. First, I could not get into the Garden because the locks were busted. One of the area landlords came by and helped me open the back gate, but was a little put out when I wouldn’t give him the combination.  If he doesn’t have it, he can’t be a suspect now, can he, if something goes wrong.   None of us were able to open the front lock, so I’m going to need help cutting it off.  In the meantime, Rose came by with more popsicles, but I was too distracted with the lock situation to eat.

After all that, I got a late start with weeding, fertilizing tomatoes and blueberry bushes, trimming the alley weeds and volunteer weed trees, and composting the flower beds.  Derek, the manager of the Helping Hands Community Garden in Clintonville, was in the area and stopped by.  His garden raises produce for the food pantry at the Clintonville Resource Center.   I gave him a brief tour and encouraged him to borrow (on an indefinite basis) one of our extra rain barrels.  He explained that he didn’t have time to dig up some extra black raspberry seedlings for his garden because he was getting married that evening at 7.  ( I hope the weather cooperated for him).  However, when he saw how many extra wood chips we had, he said that he would make time to fill up a trash can with those to take back with him.  Cassie came by to weed and cut back her bolting spinach.   When Neal came, we repurposed some old fence from the demolished building next door into a trellis for his tomatoes.  His father turned 91 on Saturday and he was off to a celebration.  Meanwhile, Cassie’s sunglasses fell of her head while she was weeding and we couldn’t find them.  I told her I would come back to help her look after I delivered our food pantry harvest because the pantry closed in about an hour.

When I returned, Cassie was gone, but Neal was there with his parents and girlfriend.   Neal is very proud of how well his plot is growing.  He probably wishes he had gotten a bigger plot at this point.  Earlier this week, he took my suggestion and planted pole beans around his corn (which is taller than I am).  We are considering pruning back some of the stalks . . . .    His cucumbers are crowding out his new lima bean seedlings.

I knew that I was forgetting something when I finally left around 3.  It was not until it began raining last night that I remembered failing to replace the bibb locks on the rain cistern.  So, back to the Garden in the rain I went.  Once there, I discovered that the gutter was blocked and was not re-filling  our now-locked tank.   One more thing to take care of this week . . .  

All that being said, I’ve harvested tons of berries, kale, bok choy, spinach, and lettuce, 3 cucumbers, 2 zucchinis, some peas and some beans in the last few weeks.  Not bad.  Time to make some bread and butter pickles and edge my back yard before heading back to Dublin to teach my niece how to drive . . . . . . This will be the scariest thing I do all week.

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