Thursday, May 12, 2011

High Street Veterans Community Garden

To Bountiful Brookline Michael Gould is the coordinator of the High Street Veterans Community Garden. To the resident gardeners he is their elected foreman. For Michael, the garden is about the community, about neighbors getting together in a positive project, about the conversations a tomato plant provokes or a meeting in the laundry room on a chilly day when the community room was unavailable. It's about being resourceful and discovering the wonders of compost. For this Bronx native who will never lose the New York accent, the gardening learning curve has been steep and exhilarating, but when it comes to organizing and group dynamics he's like a fish in water.

HSVCG Multi-Family Yard Sale
Saturday May 21 from 10 am - 2 pm
Corner of Cypress & Chestnut Streets
all proceeds to benefit HSVCG garden.
Everyone welcome.
(pronounced with a Bronx accent)

HSVCG is also about the kids - kids gardening alongside their parents, the little girl who cried when her tomato plant was torn out during fall clean-up, the small child munching on a cucumber, skin and all, while her dad ate a fresh-picked tomato. If things go according to plan, the kids will have their own garden this summer in a raised bed already prepared with compost.

This is the third year for the community gardens at High Street Veterans Housing. The original plot is now a common space where the motto, prominently displayed, is "If you want to eat it plant it & weed it." A mesh shoe rack filled with plastic cups, each one seeded with greens, forms a vertical garden hanging on a fence.  One section of this original garden will be planted this year according to a Native American technique called "Three Sisters": first corn, then beans which will climb the cornstalks and fix fertilizing nitrogen with their roots, then squash which will spread over the ground and keep it cool in the heat of summer. To complete the traditional array, some fish will be buried to nourish the soil.

In 2010 HSVCG was looking for a way to expand. Bountiful Brookline Director Cathy Neal urged the residents to put in raised beds on a vacant cement terrace that once held clotheslines. With fundsm materials and technical assistance from Bountiful Brookline and other sources the beds were installed and allocated to families who each pay a small amount in annual dues.

This year ten families have signed up for plots. With a grant from a regional non-profit, trellises for climbing plants were placed against the walls that frame the terrace gardeen on two sides. There's talk of using the community room kitchen to can produce for the winter.

It's early in the season yet, but the compost bins are percolating with kitchen scraps and unsold produce from Kurkman's market and raked up leaves from the Brookline Housing Authority.  The pea shoots are up and the cold frame is full of seedlings waiting to go in the ground. More seedlings will come from ReVision Urban Farm in Dorchester. Saturday May 14 is planting day.