From Patrick Gabridge: When we re-landscaped the tiny bit of ground in front of our condo building, a volunteer tomato plant sprouted, probably from a castaway seed from some passerby's sandwich. This tomato grew in a small crack between the sidewalk and our cobblestones. Over the summer, neighbors cared for it, and it grew large enough to produce tomatoes for anyone to take (and they did). It also helped form the seed of an idea for a different kind of garden.
Between our condo and the nearest T stop, a 200-foot long, 3.5 foot high chain-link fence runs along a narrow strip of land between the sidewalk and a parking lot for a neighboring apartment complex. The two foot-wide strip of ground primarily collected weeds and litter.
We asked: Wouldn't it be interesting to make this stretch of fence more beautiful, for all the commuters that walk by? And what if they could help themselves to a vegetable or two?
My wife, Tracy, and I decided to plant vegetables along this entire length of fence. It would be a commuter garden, to provide a bit of delight to people walking by, and to remind folks that vegetable gardening can be done anywhere, not just in a big yard or community garden plot. The project would also bring together neighbors, and, for the true city folks, it could show them what vegetable plants look like (yes, kids, beans don't just come from the supermarket).
We planted the 200 Foot Garden in the summer of 2009, and for the past three seasons it has provided tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, greens, and herbs for neighbors and passersby. Signs now line the fence along Kent Street, informing curious onlookers about what’s growing and why the garden is there. A blog continues to spread the word online. Dozens of volunteers have helped beautify this stretch of sidewalk in Brookline Village, and have engaged in countless conversations with neighbors about the ins and outs of growing fresh vegetables.
For 2012, the 200 Foot Garden will be looking for a new coordinator. Tracy and I will be part of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project over the summer, where we’ll be farming a ¼ acre incubator plot (the Pen and Pepper Farm ) and selling our produce at farmer’s markets in Jamaica Plain and Acton, and to a CSA in Lowell. We won’t have time to continue managing the 200 Foot Garden, so we’re looking for a new leader (or leaders) to take over and help steer the 200 Foot Garden forward. The ideal person is an experienced gardener who likes project planning and working with people. This is a project with tremendous positive feedback and community impact.
If you think you’d be interested, please contact Patrick Gabridge at [email protected] .