radicle beets


<3 sun setting on the gardens. by radiclebeets
September 14, 2014, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The sun sets behind the bright Mergatroid building that houses the Thistle, birds on power lines sing and preen. Bicyclists coast by on uneven pavement and give a smile or a wave, looking on with wonder, joy, sometimes even excitement at the thriving greenery. Medicinal herbs such as chamomile, calendula, mullen, sage, comfrey, fennel, and mallow, shift comfortably in the breeze. Tomatoes ripen, peppers fall off their stocks, onions seed, and the vines on the fence compete for the last moments of sunlight. The boulevard on the corner of Parker and Vernon is extremely alive and providing food for many.

But no one is there.

When the garden was imagined years ago, it was in response to a strong need. A desire to feed oneself, to create community in an otherwise seemingly bland and lifeless landscape. A group of people, thistle collective members, took the idea and ran with it- bringing in boards and bricks, shovels and strong wills, and built a beautiful space for growing vegetables and herbs for the people involved and those walking by. There were no fences but the neighbour’s, no walls or wait-lists, or signs saying “No Trespassing”. No security, no owners, no property. The plants were respected by all, and they thrived. I wasn’t there, but I saw the pictures, and damn, that was a nice space. Vegetables for everyone with some to spare – folks would deliver the extras to collective houses and friends, or leave them in the garden for the people in the community to help themselves.

The garden grew, soon became it’s own ‘pod’, and people were coming in three times a week to water, hang out and eat, and the food forest was born. For three years the food forest and the parker gardens thrived – gaining hand dug irrigation systems, signs, bee hives, and a reputation for hands-on learning. Mistakes were encouraged and everyone was a member, newbie or not. Gardening collectively meant anyone could do anything, and that was extremely liberating for many, myself included. Learning with dirty hands, friends, and experiments was fun and rewarding.

The destruction of the food forest was tragic. Not only for the plants and the land, but for the people involved. Hearts were held there, people invested their love into that space. It’s hard to understand where someone is coming from when they hurt so many people with one action, and it’s even harder to accept that people see the world differently all the time, all over the planet, and it’s not so silly to think that two neighbours could think radically differently. It’s even harder to have sympathy for your oppressors, even when you know they believe they are right, and you believe you’re right.

The following year, this year, in the gardens was tough. There were four core members, then two, then one. People came and went, often excited and with good honest intentions to keep coming back and helping out. So why not? Why is there no one left, why is the food left for the crows, rats, raccoons, and starlings?

Because the project worked.

The success of the guerilla gardens of the purple thistle was never dependant on the actual space; the plants on the boulevard across the street. It was successful because people have moved on. The knowledge gained and the friendships cultivated among the greenery started movements all over the community. Little guerilla gardens have popped up at the sides of roads, under bridges. Seed banks, food shares, home and shared gardens thrive. Social remediation and permaculture is alive and spreading because people saw how it could be, how it works, and how to make the changes within themselves for a more collective life.

I know for me, I learned how to meet people where they are and how they come. How to accept when i’m learning a hard lesson (like when the beans all died at once, or when suddenly the whole bed of lettuces bolted), or when I’m trying too hard to control other living things. The plants taught me a ton this year and I am so excited to start my garden fresh next spring, but I know it won’t be on the same corner.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is when to see and accept an end. The end of this season marks the end of the purple thistle gardens, not because I say so, not because of someone’s decision, but because it’s just over. Everyone is busy doing their own thing, starting or continuing projects elsewhere, and that’s so exciting! I still get teary (and currently am), yet I can’t help but smile because I have the memory of the gardens, the shared experiences, and the love I deeply felt while among friends.

The decision of what’s happening with the land is still up in the air, and the season hasn’t ended. There are tons of seeds and herbs for drying, and everyone is still extremely welcome to the space and all that is there. Weekly meetings and garden parties are no longer happening, but we will have a wrap-up in october.

Thank you to those who started and carried the garden this far. I am forever thankful I was a part of such a life-changing and exciting project, and will never forget how you turned me from an observer to a curious gardener. I will always value the love I found in the gardens.

Mulch Love and Peas,

LeyAnn

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