Dangerously organic!

Dear Sh'mal,

First of all, I want to thank you explicitly for bringing me into this beautiful world of organic gardening and all that surrounds it. Yes, I found the McRorie Community Garden on my own while wandering around SE Gainesville on my bicycle looking for the Hawthorne Trail.

And, yes I had gotten a start before I met you by talking with Daniella and Maura, our garden administrator. But, as you recall, there appeared an obstacle in the beginning that you eased me through. Remember? I love telling the story...

In the beginning, I found the garden. It was lovely. It stopped me in my tracks, literally. I leaned my bicycle up against a tree and gazed at the tower of tools that drew me to the garden from the street I'd been riding on.

I walked through the garden thinking, "What a lovely, magical place". I looked around and saw carefully restored homes.

One home was undergoing loving renovation.

As I looked around me at the carefully tended patches full of vegetables and flowers, I noticed someone across the street washing a dog.

Then, the dog ran away! Toward me, in fact! And, its owner, Daniella came after him. He stopped near me to investigate. Who was this stranger in the garden?

Daniella caught up with him and said, "Now, Rocket! Come here to me. Let me finish washing you". Being the stranger in the garden, I felt it appropriate to explain exactly what I was doing there. You see, I had no idea what a community garden was. Recall, Sh'mal, this was just weeks ago, at the end of Spring and the beginning of Summer.

I asked what the garden was about. Daniella explained it was a community garden with patches tended by many people. I asked if she had a patch of her own. She pointed to the far corner and said that one was hers last season, but now she planted in her front yard, directly across from the garden. At that point, Rocket ran off again.

She hurriedly said, "I have to catch this dog before he gets run over by a car. If you're interested, call Maura. She runs the garden and her number is on the bulletin board near the entrance." And, off Daniella ran, after Rocket.

So, I walked over to the bulletin board and took a peek. There was Maura's notice: "These plots are individually cared for. Please don't take any veggies that aren't yours!", with her name and number.

There was also a string with Tibetan prayer flags strung across the top of the board.

A laminated sheet from a local feed and supply instructed the best times to grow various plants.

Another flier advised "Please don't feed the millhouse!".

There was even a tasty treat left especially for the plants!

It was so lovely, I compulsively began taking pictures.

I called the number and Maura answered. I prepared to explain why I was calling and set the stage for the conversation, but Maura knew immediately what I was calling about as soon as I mentioned garden. She explained that McRorie Community Garden was a garden for the neighborhood. She asked if I wanted a patch. I was shocked! I live across town in a little apartment. No lawn. And, here was a an offer to have my very own piece of earth to tend. I said, "Of course!" Maura explained that all the patches were taken and there was a waiting list. But, she said, "Where are you standing?" I answered, "By the tower". She said "Orient yourself by the fence looking inward toward the garden.

You might begin by planting along a two foot strip next to the fence. Then, once a patch opens up, you can have it. There are two people ahead of you." I said "Sure! That'll work!" and excitedly left...

Stay tuned...chapter two to follow!

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