So anyway, besides the oil spill … It’s Springtime at the Village, and presto, we got ourselves a community garden! Our new star volunteer, Cara Walton, wrangled some volunteers and whipped up a raised-bed garden in the back yard. This fall, with any luck, we will have fresh home-grown fruits and vegetables.
Lower Ninth Ward Village founder Mack McLendon, who grew up in the neighborhood, talks about when he was a child, and every third or fourth house in the Lower 9 featured a working vegetable garden in the yard. Everyone had their specialty crop, and they bartered and shared. Some even kept livestock. Mack says they might have been cash-poor, but he never remembers going hungry.
The lesson? Our Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood used to be fairly self-sustaining, and with some hard work and preparation, it will be again. All are invited to come dig in the dirt.
Cara Walton came here from Chicago last year and fell in with the Village about a month and a half ago. She was going to volunteer with one of the art programs that fell through due to lack of funding, so she dove in to the back yard.
Her only gardening background? Living in Champagne Urbana, a rural area with a lot of farming, and playing in the dirt with her gardener dad. Other than that, like the rest of us, she’s winging it. This is something we need more of: Learning how to use the world — to be responsible stewards, and not lazy do-nothing consumers.
The wood for the raised beds was scrounged and donated by volunteers. The dirt was donated from the Make It Right foundation (the “Brad Pitt Houses”). Seeds came from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Some other seeds came from Parkway Partners Food and Farm Network. It truly does take a village…
Two older men from the neighborhood began work on the chicken coop and compost bin area. A stellar group of volunteers from Greenhill High School came in and finished it. Many thanks to them.
Miss Cara’s plans are to stay on site at the Village this summer to look over the garden and generally shake a tail feather wherever needed. She wants to put out a call for old recipes and stories about food from the community here, and document and make art out of the Lower Ninth Ward’s extensive gardening history.
Next up, she’s working on a water harvesting system and a greenhouse. So we need old windows. Who’s got some old windows? Please contact the Village.
This post was made possible in part by sunlight, chlorophyll, oxygen, and dirt.
Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.