Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In The Community Garden

It's not much, our little section of the community garden.  Twenty feet by four feet.  Already, though, we've got zucchini and peppers and some flowers and pumpkin growing.   There's a lot of other stuff also growing but I don't quite remember what because I threw away the seed packets.  The red ants are still there.  We've reached some kind of truce, it seems.  I won't cover them with any more organic corn meal and they won't bite me.  I'm holding up my end of that deal.  I hope they are small insects of their words and don't bite me.  I think I'm allergic to red ant bites.  Perhaps we are all.  Here's what I do know.  Corn meal doesn't slow them down at all.  That's okay.  There seems to be plenty of room for everyone.
The community garden of which I am a participant was started in part by Amy's Farm which uses the polyculture approach to farming.  Polyculture is agriculture using multiple crops in the same space in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems.  It avoids large stands of single crops.  This approach often requires more labor but has some advantages:  The plants are healthier and produce more.  For example, a study in China reported in Nature Magazine showed that planting several varieties of rice in the same field increased yields by 89% largely because of a dramatic decrease in the incidence of disease.  The greater variety of crops provides habitat for more species, increasing local biodiversity.  This is an example of Reconciliation Ecology, or accommodating biodiversity within human landscapes.  For example, my ants are doing well and have invited other types of ants to come live in my plot of the garden.

The main advantage for me, though, of this type of gardening is that I am left feeling that I've done something that is part of a movement of return -- return to a time and a way of life fast fading unless strangers get together to help each other grow good food.
Here's a thought.  Find a community garden and ask if you can help out.  You improve not only your mood and your sense of belonging but you help out the planet, too.

No comments: