Monday, August 17, 2009

This past Friday, Cindy and I visited two more community gardens in Boise. Our first stop was Boise's Downtown Community Garden (pictured to the left), which is located on Fort Street between 11th and 12th (near the Co-op). I liked this garden a lot; mostly because it made gardening seem very approachable. They basically planted food anywhere it would go, and this results in a hodge-podge of plots that I found delightful. The garden had several circular beds in it, and in one instance a tall crop was planted around the outer edge of the circle (it was either corn or sunflowers, I can't remember) to protect a smaller crop on the inside (peppers maybe?). This garden doesn't have any individually designated plots; instead, it functions on the philosophy of "unified" or "communal" gardening. No money is ever exchanged at this site; this means that if anyone wants to come and help weed or help in some other way, they get vegetables in exchange for their labor. This is the garden's first season.

Our final stop was at a refugee garden. This garden is part of a program known as "Eat Local, Live Global" under a group called Common Ground and it helps to train refugees and give them the skills necessary for the job market. We got a tour from the head gardener. His name is Devi and he is from Bhutan, and very clearly knows what he is doing. This garden was possibly the largest we have seen yet, and it was very, very, very impressive. There are two sections in it: the market garden, where they grow produce for the Farmers' Market, and a garden for customer produce. For a flat rate of $250 at the start of the season, families or individuals can purchase a plot. The refugees tend this plot throughout the season and the customer gets to enjoy the produce. I was honestly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of food, and the order of absolutely everything.

I was feeling very inspired after seeing these gardens, and this was only perpetuated over the weekend. I went to a potluck on Saturday and saw the amazing garden in the backyard of the host's house. It included a rotating compost barrel, solar food dehydrator, fruit-bearing trees, herbs, and several plots. On Thursday I should have more information, because he has agreed to sit down with me and talk to me in detail about his gardening practices. This will be highly beneficial to the future gardening packet and helpful to me personally, because he has several contacts within the community.

I can feel things starting to pick up slightly... people have begun calling my office and I suddenly have things to do and places to go. It is wonderful to be busy. The community gardens map is coming along slowly, though I know there are several gardens that I haven't even heard about yet.

I moved that poor (probably doomed) basil plant outside... it was suffering from neglect in my room, and if a rabbit hasn't chewed it to shreds (I forgot to check it this morning) hopefully it will rejoice in the sun today. I should really just abandon all hope of growing plants inside... I've had trouble with almost every indoor plant I've ever owned. Once it's in the ground, that's a different story.

Ay me, the contradictions of being a Community Garden Coordinator!

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