According to Kari Spencer, “often... visible outdoor areas are homogeneous, cookie-cutter spaces, where neatly-trimmed grass or a few well-placed flower pots are admired and appreciated by the neighbors. But for some revolutionary gardeners, a feast for the eyes is not enough. They want something edible in return for the hard work, the water and the expense of tending a landscape. These food revolutionaries are maximizing their cultivation area by converting their landscapes, patios, and nearby vacant lots into productive edible gardens. In the quest for more space to grow food, even conventional front lawns are being transformed into maverick, and highly visible, vegetable plots.... the rise of modern vegetable gardeners who are cutting against the grain of current landscape fashion to grow food out in the open once again.”
Are vegetable plants beautiful? Philosophers have discussed the nature of beauty for centuries, and most come down on the side of subjectivity – that there are no objective standards and it is, as the cliche says, in the eye of the beholder. That said, the connection of beauty to pleasure is something upon which many agree. “Beauty is such an order and construction of parts as, either by the primary constitution of our nature, by custom, or by caprice, is fitted to give a pleasure and satisfaction to the soul” (Hume, 1740). It almost goes without saying that gardens and gardening are good for the soul. Community gardens are known to have some unique benefits for members of the garden. Teig et al. (2009) found that participants in community gardens chose to remain in the garden because of the social opportunities they offered. Vegetable gardening also has the potential to increase the frequency of social interaction. Lewis (1990) argues that gardening provides gardeners with an opportunity to socialize with others, since the action is taking place in publicly visible locations. “Community gardens can increase the sense of community of nearby neighborhoods due to the creation of a mixed - use land, and therefore increase their social capital” (Ozawa, 2010).
Last night's board meeting really highlighted why the mayor and trustee jobs aren't fun. We immediately started to implement a Community Garden after we were sworn in. Due to the efforts of volunteers and donors (& Bob), the garden is almost finished, and is already producing. The garden chair delivered greens & squash to the food pantry last night. She said the folks there couldn't have been happier. Meanwhile Bob & I were taking heat from four planning and zoning board members, two of whom live across from the garden.“Creating your own urban farm is as simple as planting your flowerbeds with edibles. No matter where you are you can grow something to eat. Shift your thinking and you'd be surprised at the places your food can be grown! I believe that virtually everyone has the ability to either grow some food at home, or to find an appropriate location to start a garden. I may sound like a kook who plants my landscape with cucumbers instead of carnations, peppers instead of petunias, and fruit trees rather than ficus, but I am convinced that wherever you go, you can grow food! Now is the time for us to join together and plant the seeds that will transform the places in which we live. I envision a day when every city and town has front and back yards, community gardens and growing spaces, nurtured into life by neighbors who are no longer strangers, but friends who delight in the edible rewards offered from a garden they discovered together. Imagine small strips of land between apartment buildings that have been turned into vegetable gardens, and urban orchards planted at schools and churches to grow food for our communities. The seeds of the urban farming movement already are growing within our reality” (Peterson, 2009).
The garden looks like crap (said by all of them, more than once), like a stockyard, like a gulag, why would we want that as you enter the village, what permits did you get, why didn't we get a letter in the mail (although it was discussed at every board meeting & there are minutes, is on the website, on facebook, and in the village newsletter). It ruins our view when we sit on our porch sipping champagne. "That's your opinion" in response to my protesting that the garden is beautiful. No, it isn't just my opinion. There is scholarly literature supporting my position. Where are their citations? Something from the Journal of Ugly, Mean-Spirited, Elitist, Selfish Commentary perhaps?
Culture change is very, very difficult in this village. But I will not let the naysayers dissuade me.