Friday, July 16, 2010

Citizen farmers

Monday and Friday mornings, the dog and I deviate from our normal walking routine of Comstock Park and take a long stroll through the ‘hood instead. I’m a shameless snoop and love to check out what the neighbors are doing in terms of remodels, landscaping and the occasionally painful lack there-of.

Our Norman Rockwell-ian neighborhood is very charming. We live in lovely, (mostly) restored vintage bungalows, American four-squares, mock Tudors and Colonials, built mostly between the 1910s and 1940s. Almost all are shaded by stately, long-lived maples, oaks, ash, pine and spruce trees that line our streets and well-used sidewalks in abundance.

When plotting out our neighborhood back in the day, some wonderfully twisted genius obviously went to great lengths to assure there was no apparent uniformity among our lots. Some of us have post-stamp front yards, but deep, private, luxurious back yards – others, the exact opposite. You’ll find double lots, narrow lots, pie-shaped lots.

Which brings me to the point of this post. And yes, there IS a point. Here it is. Finally.

So, here’s what struck me about the neighborhood this morning. Aside from how stinkin’ long it’s taking to finish building the new garage on Wall Street and to complete the front-yard re-do on Monroe, that is.

ANYWAY. This morning, for some reason, I was simultaneously touched, intrigued, captivated and inspired by the many ways my good neighbors carve out their summer vegetable gardens. Many with the luxury of space and a sunny yard (and someone “crafty” in the house) have created impressive raised beds. The more sun- or landscape-challenged among us make creative use of barrels and pots, parking strips and narrow spaces along our garages. One way or the other, despite the quirkiness of our old homes, landscapes and hardscapes, it's apparent we share a common mission and dream -- to create a little urban "farm" where we can, like generations before us, live off the bounty of the land (or a whiskey barrel, as the case may be).

Here’s a random sampling of vegetable gardens tended by my fellow citizen farmers this summer:

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