At this point of the summer, at least here in the upper Midwest, our vegetable garden begins to occupy airspace. Beans latch onto poles. The tendrils of cucumbers grasp the rungs of ladders, enabling them to rise above the ground. The five-foot high mini-forest is fanned by breezes that are better able to move through the foliage, preventing the rotting that can shorten a plant’s life.
Backyard gardening involves constant mutual adjustment among plants, objects and, of course, the gardeners.
For instance: We’re growing red potatoes in black sacks. As the green stem and leaves grow toward the sun, we cover them in dirt, compost and mulch, then fold up another layer of the sack. This occurs maybe three times with each growing plant. By now, the sacks are full, potatoes are forming inside and the first flowers are visible in the green extensions standing above the ridges of the bags.
There’s another stage of growth in gardening beyond the expansion of the plants themselves. Gardens can be linked as well. Perhaps it’s time to extend beyond our own space to link with others in the community.
One such group, The Sugar Beet Co-op, has that very idea in mind. Families who cultivate vegetables in their individual yards have organized with the purpose of sharing knowledge, resources and eventually a common space. These neighbors plan to create a community store that will distribute locally grown produce.
Through such joint efforts, parents, children and neighbors can grow more than tomatoes; they grow a sustainable community, as well.
Guest blogger Richard S. Kordesh is the author of Restoring Power to Parents and Places and has worked professionally in the community development field for 35 years.
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