The Garden as a Community Builder

My garden is modest. We live on a standard city plot with about 3,000 sf of space available for planting. The south side of the house happens to sit in the most public corner of the plot, on the street-side which receives alot of passing cyclists and pedestrians.

Because it’s such a small amount of space in this corner, I have packed in the plantings pretty densely, following Master Gardener and permaculture practices to get the most out of it. It’s really something to look at, compared to the standard lawns that surround us. And those other gardens in the neighborhood that also take up lawn space are very noticeable too, especially to me, since I’m often looking for new ideas.

One such neighboring garden is kept by a man whom I call Mr. McGregor. He has a long, white beard, is often in dungarees, and has done a tremendous job building new raised beds and a cool fence for the backyard, which I’m certain has chickens, more raised beds, and a merry Tibetan flag. In other words, I totally admire this guy. Well, guess who was taking a walk past my house yesterday…Mr. McGregor! The highlight of my day was when he asked if it was my garden, and then said, in a very purposeful way, “I Love It.” And expressed how much he enjoys walking past.

It took everything I had not to gush over how much I love his garden too, and know exactly who he is and that he planted alot of peppers this year and didn’t get alot out of his winter squash bed (he has four little pumpkins things sitting cheerfully on top of a stone wall as of two days ago).

But he is the kind of man who has a twinkle in his eye. You know the type. Makes you feel like anything you say, no matter how silly, will be taken with respect. So I let it loose and we talked. Perhaps now I won’t feel too shy to say hello when riding past his house on my bike ride home.

What I love about my little, modest garden is how it seems to cheer up the many people who walk by, most likely in a rush to get to the bus stop on Powell, or who live in an apartment and can’t plant, or who knows where. That’s all I can hope for.


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