Yesterday Ramona stopped by, on her way to Love and Rain Church. “Who puts flowers in pots around town and plants those trees on sidewalks? I want one…”. She was on her way to hand out baked and canned goods at Love and Rain. “We serve a lot there . . . a lot of new people are coming in there. There’s no fresh food!”
Ramona drove off, promising to weed with me soon, as I jotted down her ‘tree request’.
I continued planting – in my church of love and rain. The clouds were in a giving mood. Rain tumbled down, hand in hand with the sun. It was the kind of weather that puts inches on plants.
My next visitor was the house-painter from across the street. “Back in the day,” he lamented, “everyone around here had a garden in their backyard – it’s just what you did. Nobody questioned it . . .I love to see this here.”
Then the phone rang about yet another place in town without fresh food. Then Shauna stopped by . . . then Michelle . . . then Carlos . . . then I lost count of all the folks who stopped by to say something positive or to ask for ‘more’. As I grower, I like to hear all of this, because ‘more’ can always be made.
The clouds kept giving as I planted flowers, tomatoes, peppers, basil and cucumbers that were donated to the Westside Farm Project. I stuck many of those plants in our plots, inching further beyond the fence with my trowel, eventually climbing into my car for a drive around the neighborhood in what has become a weekly plant give-away. The block has erupted with gardens this past month. And as my grandmother says, a garden is always asking for more.
If you’re ever in the neighborhood, check out Marie’s tomato patch, which has slowly adopted peppers, flowers and perhaps a few other things. They’re all happily crammed in a little corner.
Check out Christopher‘s garden at the Francis Plaza housing for the elderly and disabled. He’s a diligent volunteer who has unloaded armfuls of plant leftovers into his somewhat illegally-placed garden. “Maintenance hasn’t mowed it yet, and the neighbors love it!” Christopher hopes his onions, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, pumpkins, kale, tomatoes, celeriac, etc., will slowly make their way into his friends’ kitchens.
Then there’s Ai’s garden, adjacent to the Robbins garden. Ai speaks little English, and I know no Mandarin, but we’ve been speaking “plant” together since March. Ai’s back yard is a terraced microcosm of the universe of Asian vegetables. Not a spot has been overlooked – horizontally or vertically. Ai saves her own seeds. She grows huge quantities of produce. I wish she’d let me take a photo!
Oh, I can’t forget Sil’s garden, down the road. Sweet potatoes, collards, beans, hot peppers, two-year old kale plants, the whole gamut of veggies – growing up fences, out of tires and spiraling around his yard.
Yesterday, my Westside Farm Notebook overflowed with scribbles about all the giving that’s been going on. There’s such abundance out there, and this neighborhood is part of that cornucopia.