The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Food Gardens for Condos?

December 18th, 2011 · 4 Comments · Posted in garden, Sustainability

There used to be a garden here

When I wrote recently about my old garden being torn up to make way for condos, my friend Pattie Baker, author of the Foodshed Planet blog, was so distraught she wrote the developer to plead the case that he ought to offer garden plots to the new condo owners.

In fact, I had suggested the very same thing before we closed on the deal selling our house to Capital City Real Estate, which is turning our former home into six condominiums. The developer, Scott Zimmerman, sounded receptive at the time. And in response to a beautifully worded e-mail from Pattie, he again said he would consider making this proposal to the new buyers.

With would-be gardeners waiting months or years for plots at local community gardens here in D.C., a ready-made garden right outside your condo door would seem to be a great marketing tool, to say nothing of the message of sustainability it sends to the rest of the city.

When we sold the house, we had eight big garden beds established in the yard, all rich with years of compost amendments. That’s all gone now, of course. Much of it has been excavated to make room for parking. And today I had to report to Pattie that a crew of workers armed with shovels and a Bobcat were busy on Saturday re-grading the yard.

The garden area used to sit about four feet above sidewalk level with a large plateau for the vegetable beds, dropping off steeply around the edges toward the curb. That made cutting the grass around the edges a real pain in the butt. But it was perfect for vegetable beds.

What the crew was doing yesterday was sloping the yard from the house toward the curb, removing that flat area that was so convenient for gardening in order to smooth out those steep edges. Add in the new entrances that  have been excavated for two basement apartments and the space available for food gardening is rapidly shrinking.

What the garden looked like, with Pattie

If you want to get an idea of what the garden looked like in July 2010, check out the post Pattie wrote after her visit. She also took some video that you can link to there.

Pattie is one hell of a fighter. While you’re at it, order a copy of the remarkable self-published book she’s written about her life as a sustainability activist, gardener, and mom, Food for My Daughters. If you’re looking for an exquisitely written manual for living more harmoniously with Planet Earth–not a bad Christmas gift, I’d say–this is it.

The Kindle edition is only $1.99.

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  • Pattie

    Ed: Scott has communicated with me that he intends to ask for your advice re: incorporating garden beds into his plan before its completion in February, 2012. Obviously the soil you had built over all those years is now gone, but perhaps a “start from scratch” condo-community garden will still be a positive addition and an inspiration to others.

  • Pattie

    P.S. Oh, and thank yo very much for your kind words about my book. You have been a great friend and have had a huge impact on my journey, as you know. Thank you for all you do!

  • Sylvie in Rappahannock

    It is frustrating indeed to have years of work in building soil just gone! What a waste! But the work you did there and documented through your blog remain unparalleled
    Best wishes in your search for a new abode, and a very happy and wholesome new year to the three of you.

  • Ed Bruske

    Thanks, Sylvie!