Skip to content

Community Supported By Agriculture (March 3 Garden Project)

May 21, 2010

I woke Wednesday feeling kind of edgy.  Not sure why exactly, just a little stressed, I guess.  I first hit the Green City Farmer’s Market.  It was a warm, sunny day and it was really wonderful to run into my friends Dana and Pete and Judith there.  I walked away feeling happy to have the sense of community that I do at the market.  How cool that “buying groceries” can be a soul-satisfying experience rather than a trot down a florescent-lit aisle pushing a metal cart.

Then it was on to our communal garden.  Just to clarify, the March 3 Garden Project is a group of four urban farmers who are sharing a backyard and gardening every square inch of it.  It’s not my yard, but I feel very at home there.

Getting ready to plant this spring required a lot of infrastructure improvements and “heavy lifting”.  We tore the deck off the back of the house.  Tore out raised beds.  Pulled out paving stones.  Roto-tilled the entire yard.  Spread two cubic yards of compost and blended it with the existing soil.  Transplanted three evergreens.  Cut down trees.  Propped up three rain barrels.  Cleaned gutters.  Cleaned and organized the garage.  Hung trellis.

All fun stuff.  I love hard work.  But you’ll notice none of that was “gardening”.

Yesterday was the first day I truly felt like a calm, zen gardener.  It was the sort of warm sunny day where the temperature is exactly perfect.  Our to-do list was pleasant somehow and there was just a great vibe in the garden as three of us worked.  Maybe it was the folk music on the radio that felt like the right music for that moment.  Maybe it was…I don’t know what it was, but it was really nice.  English is failing me just now.  I suppose it’s the sort of thing you need a poem to explain.  Ok, so here’s my “photo-poem” that tells what we did:

I pulled straw out of the potato boxes to mound more soil up around the plants.  The stems of the potato plants are amazing!  They’re dense and watery looking, like a succulent, so full of future potato-ness.

Marc weeded with that fancy Japanese weeder thingy:

Ellen harvested turnips,

and gave friends a tour. We’re very proud when we’re showing our garden to people!

We planted cress this year, not really knowing too much about it.  A lot of cress.  It is fiery stuff.  Seems like we better make soup!

We also have a ton of chard coming up, but I’m not worried about that.  I love chard!

One of my favorite rhythms of a day in the garden together is watering in the late-afternoon.  I like watering myself and I equally like watching the sun hit the water as others nurture our plants.

Looking ahead, zucchini is popping up in our greenhouse, some still wearing their little hats:

We came, we sowed, we weeded, we watered, we reaped.  We reaped greens, of course, but we also reaped the benefits of gardening together, that community supported by agriculture.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Alice Van Housen permalink
    May 21, 2010 5:55 pm

    grant, that brought tears to my eyes. as a kid, this was one of my favorite poems:

    Baby Seed Song
    By: Edith Nesbit

    Little brown brother, oh! little brown brother,
    Are you awake in the dark?
    Here we lie cosily, close to each other:
    Hark to the song of the lark
    “Waken!” the lark says, “waken and dress you;
    Put on your green coats and gay,
    Blue sky will shine on you, sunshine caress you
    Waken! ’tis morning ’tis May!”
    Little brown brother, oh! little brown brother,
    What kind of a flower will you be?
    I’ll be a poppy all white, like my mother;
    Do be a poppy like me.
    What! You’re a sunflower! How I shall miss you
    When you’re grown golden and high!
    But I shall send all the bees up to kiss you;
    Little brown brother, good-bye.

  2. Jerry permalink
    May 22, 2010 3:03 pm

    Hi Grant,

    Who owns the gorgeous German Shepherd in the background?!

    Back to the garden… Looks like all is going very well with your spring greens. Question: why are the potatoes in boxes and why do they have straw on them? Being of Polish lineage on both sides of my family, potatoes were always a big planting in my parent’s rather large backyard. And on my relatives’ farms in Wisconsin and Illinois. I still remember planting potato “seeds” and watching them sprout, grow, leaf out and blossom. Of course, the final harvest of digging and sifting through the soil to see how big the potatoes were that year was the end of the cycle. Don’t remember straw though. Only put that on the asparagus in case of frost.

    This all makes me hungry. I’m now heading to the local farmer’s market here in Long Beach. I want some fresh greens!

  3. May 22, 2010 7:49 pm

    What a great day you had and what a great photo poem. You’re really building much more than a garden – a sense of community.

    • May 24, 2010 2:14 am

      Tammy, thanks for the note, and I totally agree! I enjoyed checking out your blog site too. Keep up the great work. (

      Alice, I can’t thank you enough for posting. Love the poem!

      Jerry, that would be Scout, Ellen’s shepherd. Sorry you missed seeing all the greens in the foreground in favor of zeroing in on the dog! Is that called “not seeing the (forest) greens for the (trees) dog”?

      As for the potatoes…please remember that we’re learning and we’re urban. Learning means I have no idea where the straw idea came from and I’m not really sure how important it is. Because this is a chicken farm too though, it’s no trouble finding straw because there’s always a bale or two at hand! Normally potatoes are planted in rows, but there is a vertical method using these boxes. We are supposed to keep adding dirt and boxes and go more and more vertical. You know, we live in the city where we stack people on top of each other in apartment buildings, so of course we stack our potatoes too! I can tell you I was there again today and it’s been four days since I put dirt around the potatoes. They’ve doubled in size and are screaming for more dirt already! Gotta get there in a day or two and build more boxes so we keep moving up.

      • Jerry permalink
        May 29, 2010 3:10 pm

        Au contraire! I admired the greens AFTER admiring the dog. First things first.

        As for the fact that you’re still learning, urban farmers…you could have fooled me. Everything you’re doing seems 100 percent right on. Everything looks healthy and happy. I was just wondering what you were doing with the potatoes. That straw and box thing you’re doing is new to me. Have fun! That’s what it should be about…n’est-ce pas?

        Have a nice Memorial Day weekend!


  1. Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Garden, Ask What Your Garden Can Do For Others (March 3 Garden Project) « My Foodshed

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: