Putting Down Roots


back to work
January 6, 2011, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The coolness of a Tallahassee January–although it’s nothing compared to what winter is in the north, where my mother is shovelling her driveway twice a day and pipes are freezing and folks are fogetting what their legs look like under all the layers of long underwear–nevertheless has put a bit of a pause on our garden installations. While there are still collards and kale and arugula and lettuce going strong out front, and the beets and carrots and turnips are setting their thick roots, and the strawberries and sugar snaps are just this side of producing fruit, it’s not the time for planting. Not yet.

What that means is that our days are filled more with the organizational side of things: meetings and emails and Nathan’s consistent declarations that he’s “figured it all out” as he shows me notes scribbled on a one-sided piece of paper (let it be known, though, that these generally are pretty exciting ideas. The latest is for a set up where folks pay money up front to both get a weekly delivery of lettuce and provide an equal share of fresh produce to a food pantry, with all of the food being grown in a garden that is intentionally educational and accessible for folks wanting to volunteer).

Today, my “work” was to get back in touch with people who I’m going to be working with in the coming year. Once several emails had been sent and phone calls made, I took a step back and was pretty excited about all of the prospects. Sometime soon, I’ll be meeting with Alice, who I met at a shapenote sing and who wants her Episcopal church to start a garden to provide fresh vegetables for the weekly food pantry they run. Next week, I’ll be getting coffee with a minister at a Methodist church who happens to be friends with some people I know; his church is interested in the possibility of a community garden. I’ll also get to walk the grounds at my own church to figure out where there’s enough sun among all the live oaks for a couple of raised beds. On Sunday, I’ll check in with Vicki at Quaker meeting to talk about expanding the garden in front of the meetinghouse and setting up a system that would allow people to tend small plots of their own on Sundays after meeting for worship. I’ve got leads to follow with a synagogue in town and a schoolteacher in Jackson County (out to the east of us). And there’s still food growing at Christ Presbyterian and Faith Presbyterian.

A couple months ago, I had been here long enough to feel like it was utterly naive to transplant myself to a totally foreign town and expect to be able to do any effective community organizing work. I had no idea how to find people to work with or figure out what congregations were already growing food in Tallahassee. Sure enough, if you stick around for a while and mention in passing that what you love doing is help church folks plant gardens, eventually they’ll come to you, and now I’ve got more than enough to work with. Seems like the soil just happened to be fertile enough.

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