Gardener of the Month: October 2010
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Plant Hardiness Zone: 7b/8a
Acreage / Lot Size: 3/4 acre
Garden Plot: 210 feet
(Freedom Gardens) Tell us a little more about your garden/ farm, what you grow, etc.
Our garden is currently about 210 square feet of growing space in our front yard, but it is "growing" all the time - we add more growing space every year as we make more compost and can improve the soil. In Atlanta, we can grow 12 months a year with season extending devices like plastic tunnels, so we grow a good variety of mainly annual fruits and vegetables at this time. Right now for fall and winter we have beds with Asian leaf veggies: tatsoi, tsaitsai, misome, mizuna and others. Kales, collards, cabbage collards, broccoli, lettuces, chicories, onions, leeks, garlic..a variety of mustards, swiss chards. In spring we grow similar crops and in the summer it's a more "typical" southern pallette of tomatoes, beans, southern peas, cucumbers, summer and winter squashes, melons, okra, corn plus tropicalesque ethnic vegetables like malabar spinach. At this time we still have some summer crops growing. Last fall we began to invest in perennial fruits such as Jujube, pomegranites, apples, pawpaw, figs, persimmons, blueberries, nanking cherries, strawberries with lots more to come.
(Freedom Gardens) Behind every garden, there must have been blood, sweat and tears. What have you felt was (is) the hardest thing you’ve faced (or are facing) in your gardening? Would you care to share a story?
The hardest thing we've had to face is what we are currently facing: the expansion of our garden to the back yard which has to incorporate some serious drainage work. Our problem is that there is a city drain under part of our property which is not functioning well, and there is a current struggle with the City to get drainage corrected as we sit low on the land compared to our neighbors. We have been forced to hire expensive contractors to work with the City and attempt to get yet another phase of permitting in place, hoping that this time what is being required by the City of Atlanta will also work well for the garden. The last, expensive attempt failed. There is no recourse for failed attempts but to try again, and loose the money put into it. We are however farther ahead with our environmental goals by having several City "officials" agree to let us capture and clean some of the water for irrigation and for re-introduction into the drainage system which eventually becomes an open stream used by wildlife.
Our struggle began after a tornado almost 3 years ago tore out our backyard of urban forest, forcing a very fast change in both the eco-system and land errosion. A year of flooding rains (after 3 years of drought) caused further damage. We simply want to correct the damage, and improve the quality of life for the creatures (including ourselves) and feed us all.
(Freedom Gardens) What do you feel is the most important thing in gardening?
Autonomy to care for the soil. I am a bit soil obsessed! That is to say that I don't know a lot about the science of soil - I read and absorb what I can, but try to improve the soil I feel I've been granted to care for - the essence of the earth for which I feel I can contribute something in the way I feel is right and good and responsible. Being a good steward of the Earth is the most important part of gardening to me.
(Freedom Gardens) They say that “when you garden, you grow.” Have you changed – emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually – since you’ve starting growing food?
I moved from Canada to the US about 15 years ago. One of the biggest "culture" shocks was the feeling that people had different concerns about the environment. Since we bought property and started to garden, I have felt that our desire to influence people positively toward thinking more about the environment has grown. Spiritual beliefs and the gentle nature of the garden have helped us find a very graceful way to grow our own goals, and to use the garden as a teaching tool in the community to express our thoughts to our neighbors. We have changed, and our community has changed for the better because of it. We are much stronger in our faith that simple actions can inspire great things.
(Freedom Gardens) Has this social network (freedomgardens.org) helped you with your garden?
YES! Freedom Gardens has introduced me to many wonderful gardeners around the world who have similar goals, or have made achievements which inspire us to do "bigger" and better things with our garden and in our lives. It started by finding the Path To Freedom website many, many years ago and seeing some things we dreamed of doing (and many things we had not even attempted to dream of doing) illustrated right there, in simple words and pictures. Your websites have helped us connect to individuals who can relate to the struggles and triumphs of trying to live more earthly, simple lives. Thank-you!
(Freedom Gardens) Anything else you’d like to share with other freedom gardeners?
I want to remind people that anyone, anyone at all no matter who you are or where you live, you can garden! I have had homeless friends who gorilla garden, friends with profound disabilities who garden, people who are poor and do not own property who garden. All it takes is the desire. I think gardening is often a life changing thing that helps people realize that everything around us is effected by our action or inaction - it is powerful and empowering, yet the most basic and simplest of activities. Thank you Derves family by reminding us all that one trowel can indeed make a revolution!
(Freedom Gardens) Thanks for taking the time from your busy life to share your gardening experience with us. Happy growing!
Check out GIRLGROUPGIRL Freedom Garden profile
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