Howdy neighbors. I've been hearing about the trouble you are having getting your community garden off the ground (so to speak). But more importantly, last night at Sandra's party on beautiful, historic Elizabeth St. I heard the reason for the delay was due to a small handful of Nimbies on Hurt St. with a twisted misconception about the purpose and use of public land. Best I can tell, they think the park across the street from their homes is an extension of their front yards and don't want a 'messy' vegetable garden on the site of their finely manicured lawns.
'Well pashaw!' I said to my friend, 'How could one small hand full of snooty individuals with a superiority complex, cause such a stir? Just put the garden in another part of the park - after all Freedom Park is enormous. There's LOTS of places to put your garden!'
'Oh no' says my dear friend, 'they don't want a garden ANYWHERE in the park...seems they think the one community garden that is already in Freedom Park is one too many ugly eyesore now.'
Oh no she didn't just tell me that the garden that my wonderful neighors in Poncey-Highland toiled (so to speak) to pull together last year on a shoestring budget with love and grassroots (again, so to speak) enthusiasm is being used as a reason to stop community gardens in public spaces all across Atlanta!!! It's FOOD, not flowers and shrubs, you idiots. Do these people even know where their food comes from? NO, not from the well manicured shelves of the produce isle at the Publix on Ponce de Leon. It comes from dirt!!! Who do they think they are to say our garden is ugly?!!
Dirt is dirty and bit messy. But even turned up plots in the dead of Winter have a beauty of their own that can be best appreciated when YOU have turned that soil and grown food in that plot of land and then taken it home to feed your family. The beauty of potential. The beauty of collaborative community farming. The beauty of families and friends working the soil together, getting their hands dirty together in the Spring. The beauty of purple and white eggplant and red radishes and deep green kale in the Summer and white potatoes in Fall.
And what is more beautiful than using public space for the public good? A garden in a park where families can take their children to show them an appreciation for where their food comes from. School children have come to our messy little garden for field trips. We painted pumpkins in our 'ugly' garden with neighborhood children from 2 years old to 62 years old. We hug and greet each other in the garden and share stories of our food and our lives. We share each others bounty and are cheer for each others success as we relearn centuries old knowledge about growning food, long lost to us city-dwellers. What can be more beautiful than that?
Its ignorance that makes these poor souls on Hurt St. strangers to REAL beauty. I actually feel sorry for them. I'd like to invite them to join us for a glass of cold tea on a hot day this spring to tour our garden when its in the fullness of its bounty. I'd teach them how to harvest an eggplant without damaging the plant then let them take it home with a wonderful receipt given to me by one of my gardening neighbors. Beautiful knowledge that I did not have a year ago when we started our precious garden. What is more beautiful than that?
To my Inman Park neighbors, please don't let a few lost souls take this away from you and potentially from us all. Stand firm and continue to fight for your garden. There are ever so many more of you who know what real beauty is and how much a community garden in public parks will improve the quality of all our lifes and our neighborhoods. I know that one of the voice of rage on Hurt St. is a misguided Senator who has more power than sense. But he is only ONE voice and we all know that when Inman Park speaks, people listen, freeways get stopped. Battle with confidence that you are on the side of right and there are hundreds of us across the city who support what you are doing and your right to do it. What is more beautiful than that?
Your sister in the garden,