Months after the garden was created and then removed, I'd like to say that I've had time to reflect on the project but I have been very busy with new projects and following the news of our national foreclosure scandal. The issue is first and foremost in much of the news. The banks are finally being taken to task on their foreclosure policies. Elizabeth Warren is in the house. Change may be possible. My husband and I continue to meet our mortgage responsibilities and now have 20 fruit trees planted on our tiny tiny property!
What is clear to me is that I have two months of fantastic memories of the garden versus one negative day. Those are good odds. I had a great time meeting my neighbors, talking with them about growing vegetables and the history of the neighborhood. I learned about recipes and what crops are favored in the many countries represented by our population. We all took an "easy come easy go" response to the destruction that took place when talking with each other in the days after its demise. I didn't feel devastated, just a little sad and a little resigned.
The house is still for sale. There were a flurry of visits by perspective buyers in the first days after the lawn went in and the sale sign went up. A couple in their late 40's came by to look at the place. The wife was very tired and came and sat on my stoop. the husband was very excited about the possibilities for the place. I was out tending the worlds smallest community garden in the parkway when he approached me to talk about the neighborhood.
"are you the green thumb around here?"
"One of them." I replied.
"If we get this house I really want to put in a garden in front. Could you help me with that?"
I couldn't help but laugh.
"well actually..." I began.
And although there were many offers on the property none have been acceptable to the bank.
Now the block is in the midst of a tagging war that I won't pretend to understand, but there is gun fire every weekend. the sidewalk in front of the foreclosure garden is covered in tags.
As I wrote in an earlier post, the taggers I have met are in the 12-14 range, young boys, accompanied by an older (16?) innitiated gang member. Young boys from rival gangs come on to this street and tag and are shot at by other taggers defending the street. The rivals shoot back.
The other day some detectives came by to look at the graffiti. They asked if I knew this tagger calling himself "ReCess."
It triggered the laugh cry confusion response induced by absurdly sad and yet incredibly telling events. The police are after a tagger named "ReCess." ( my friend Holly suggested maybe he was hangin' with his boys "timeout" and "teetertotter") these are little kids shooting at each other with guns. They are attacking and defending the area surrounding the homes of some powerful gang leaders. Gang leaders with little children of their own. What a mess.
Yet there are other ex gang members who will talk to the police in broad daylight on the street because they have little kids now and they don't want bullets flying around. Why are guns allowed in cities? Its so crazy. Our mural wasn't tagged, which is good news. And the Rampart Police department now have a mural program to decrease tagging starting up. I have written to volunteer with this program (scroll down to "Special Programs".
I continue to garden in the street and in my front yard. I greet or wave to most people who walk by. Little kids still stop at my gate to catch a glimpse of my funny looking chickens. I have given away lots of seedlings to people in the area. Gonzalo is saving seeds from some excellant giant yellow tomatoes I grew. I am helping my neighbor Cristina with a compost pile so she can make her own topsoil. Maria brought me a giant dragonfruit tree in bloom along with an avocado tree she started. My back neighbors gave me two mystery seedlings I have been growing now for two years and our Columbian neighbor excitedly ID'd it for me. Evidently it is a fruit tree called Inga Edulis that grows a long bean shaped fruit with the texture of cotton candy inside and the flavor of vanilla ice cream!!!! They have also been giving me lots of pomogranites from their tree and two tiny pomogranite seedlings.
As a Master Gardener I am required to do a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer work per year. In this capacity I am working with a local Filipino church group to start a vegetable garden on their grounds which reflects the recipes made by Filipino Americans. I am also working at LACAN, an organization on skid row, to create a roof-top vegetable garden in homemade self watering containers. And I continue to fantasize about the giant empty lot at the intersection of Coronado Street and Temple. I've heard its been empty for over 20 years. Imagine a giant community garden there!