Friday, April 23, 2010

Community gardening

While growing up, we went to visit my grandparents in Paris, Texas almost every other weekend, or at least it felt like it.

Paris is in the northeast corner of Texas and has extremely sandy soil, the kind that requires being washed off if your shoe of choice is no shoes, which in Paris just seems right, and because it feels so good to squish between your toes.

My Grandmother Locke always made great use of this and had a wonderful garden each year. She had a garden long before it was cool to have a garden and mainly because it was a necessity to provide food for the year.

I did not know that it was unusual to be able to step into the garden, pick your peas, shell them on the front porch, in the swing, then dig your potatoes to go in the peas, cut some okra to be fried up in the big old skillet, and then pull some onions and tomatoes as the final touch. It makes my mouth water still to think about those meals.

At the time we would complain because we couldn't go to Dairy Queen for fast food or even better Sonic for onion rings! We were stuck with eating food freshly picked!

When my grandmother passed away, my parents bought her house and continued the tradition of the garden. I loved going there and helping out, but by then I had a life (or thought I did) and did not make it very often.

One year Dad planted watermelons and we had so many that we could not even give them all away!

When grandkids started coming along, Mom and Dad were torn between trips to Paris and time with the grandkids and soon enough they sold their place in Paris.

Two years ago when I bought the house next door to my parents, I found Dad trying to grow tomatoes in a tiny sliver of sunlight since the rest of the yard is shaded.

I started hearing about community gardens and tracked down the meetings hoping to find a place where my Dad could garden. I did not know they still did not have a place and were really trying to locate a place to build a community garden. People would cruise the neighborhoods in search of vacant lots, then try to track down the owner in an effort to find an ageeable person that would let us garden there.

My employer has lots of land and I started from the bottom and tried to work up to the top administration on getting permission to develop a garden on our land. A year later and we were all still trying to find that first lot and my emails were left with empty promises of being worked up the line.

When the second year started I decided to go to the top and work my way down, as I had read that a hobby of our CEO was gardening.

Quickly I got a response from him pointing me to and opening the doors to the right people to pursue the concept.

I had no idea that would be just the beginning of developing a community garden.

When we originally looked at the land they were providing, it dawned on me that our share of the plot would be way too small to plant and grow how much I wanted to and followed through with my threat to turn my front yard into a vegetable garden.

And that is what I have started. I'll have to take pictures to show how I have converted my yard. Our vegetables are coming up in the community garden as well.

I can't wait for any or all of this to get rip and ready to eat!

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