January 21, 2021

Dear Adelphi, Can You Hear Me?

by christopherabdo

I have a confession to make: Things have gotten a little more slow-growing than I would like on my community garden plot. I've decided to be okay with that, because I've been very focused on getting my indoor eco-system together...things like...

 

  1. Getting my indoor red wiggler worms started and happy 
  2. Getting tomato seedlings and lettuce seedling going 
  3. Made adjustements/improvements to my microgreen-growing process, 
  4. Created more self-watering indoor plant systems so that I can free up time for outdoor gardens. 
  5. Figuring out how to make aerated worm-tea for an organic, self-produced fertilizer for my microgreens and houseplants 
  6. Worked on, thought about, various changes I might make to my little balcony garden
  7. Got an LED lighting system in place for the garage (SUPER lucky and thankful to have a garage, its making apartment gardening easier for sure!) this allows me to grow tomatoes indoors, give light to frost sensitive cacti, etc. 
  8. Interested in hearing more about these? Send me a shout out


During that time, I have felt a need to be outside. Many of the projects I've been working on above, are to support my outdoor gardening efforts come spring, so in a way, I have to go inside to really get something succeeding on the outside. 


I've now hit a moment of "okay I need a break from being inside all the time". 


I've been looking at my community garden plot, and drawing a blank. I feel sort of all-alone, marooned on a desert island there sometimes, because even though we are community garden, we have no community events. I'm longing for more connection with others, to feel part of a community garden. 

Don't get me wrong, I also go to the garden when I'm in a grumpy mood and want to be left alone. Yup totally also me. 

I don't know where to start. I was a loner (not by choice) most of my life, so the last thing I know how to do is start a community. I've made some attempts here and there, but I'm so uncoordinated at this, that they didn't work out. Whenever I feel unsure of what to do, one of my favorite things I will do is to have some 1-on-1 conversations and new perspectives with others. 


Yes, I can YouTube my way on how to find your role in the social fabric of a community garden. Here are two (among many many other)  issues I with with that: 


  1. I want to actually meet my "neighbors". The Adelphi community garden is not far from where I work/live. 
  2. I want to hear stories in my locale. I want to know what its like, in this place, to form garden and community success. 


There is so much more I can learn by physically experiencing the environment that someone is growing in. I can feel the warm, humid air of a microclimate that I don't get on a YouTube video...this then helps me see that what might work in that microclimate, that's warm and humid, may work differently in my microclimate, that's dry and windy. I'm seeing that learning gardening within the context of that ecosystem through direct experience is a world of difference. This is most easily done if that place I'm learning about, is physically closer to me. 


So with the Adelphi Acre community garden, I'm hoping to speak with as many members as I can to get a really contextual, practical, on-the ground sense of what a community garden can look like. I'd also be delighted if: 


  1. I get to chat about gardening with someone I just met who is interested in gardening and not rolling their eyes or spacing out.  yay!
  2. I can learn something I might be able to use in my own garden to get some progress 😃 
  3. Maybe someone is willing to show me their plot and what they've learned? 
  4. Can I learn something about community, that I could use to help build more community in my community garden? 
  5. What does it feel like, to be part of a community garden? I know my experience, but I'd love to know yours. 
  6. OMG is it possible I might make a plant-friend that lives closer by and isn't so busy with career/kids/etc that we might do some gardening stuff once a month or support each other in some symbiotic way?!



Here's a little bit about the Adelphi Acre Community Garden, from their website:


The Adelphi Acre Community Garden, located at the intersection of Adelphi Lane and Amherst Drive in North Austin, is an all-volunteer organic growing cooperative dedicated to locally-sourced, fresh food and sustainable, community-based agriculture.


Now why not do all of this with my current community garden?


I want to see what a community garden looks like, that has actually had events on the regular. My community garden I think had one event that I couldn't actually attend one time last year. 

Am I going to share the interviews/conversations that I have with Adelphi Acre gardeners? 

Only what they believe needs to be heard and want me to share. The rest of what I learn I will apply to my community garden, see how it works and share what I learn from my own experience. 


Common ground, for us in the U.S., is often at restaurants, malls and cafes. I'd love for community gardens to take that role instead...but first, I have to figure out how to get these DAMN beets to ACTUALLY GROW aaaaand figure out how to contribute what I can to my local community in a way that is good for the soil, good for each other...and fun, because I dooo have a day job 😉 

The hard part for me, is putting myself out there. It's asking to talk. Its a vulnerable place. Growing up, my family was an island. We didn't talk to our neighbors, I was a foreigner (at least when I lived in Canada). So I don't talk to my neighbors, I don't start up conversations with strangers.  I'd like to change that though. 

I've learned (or I am still learning really)...from singing, teaching, writing, acting, etc. that when I feel this fear, this fear to express what I care about, what I want, what I feel, it's sometimes a sign that I'm going to do something that will help me grow.   So I'm here, and I'm talking to strangers, hoping we might find common garden ground. 

Okay...I'm going to learn, probably fail, and report back. Hopefully I will have something that can give you a first step to getting closer...to the garden and the community and the neighborhood. I hope to make it easier for those who wish to start. Wish me luck!






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