We Americans spend ten times more on our lawns each year than we do on textbooks for our children.
Dave Barry, the syndicated columnist once wrote: "The average American homeowner would rather live next to to a pervert, a heroin addict, or communist pornographer than someone with an unkept lawn." Americans spend $27 billion a year caring for turf. That's ten times more than is spent on textbooks. We are a nation obsessed with appearances at all costs regardless the consequences to our future health and the environment. These values are nothing short of being insanely self-destructive and irresponsible not only to our generation but to generations that follow.
Last night I resigned as President of Loving Garland Green because I want the organization to survive and continue to move forward in directions that will educate and raise awareness in my community of the importance of growing at least some of the food we eat locally in our own yards. This organization is too important to be sacrificed to my personal impatience to deal with things as they are.
Loving Garland Green is much more than a garden club. It is a great group of people who are dedicated to learning together about garden techniques and what grows well in our community and then to spread that knowledge to others--not as "experts" per se, but rather as those literally in the field who have discovered first-hand what works for vegetable gardens in Garland.
To this point I believe my particular brand of leadership has been necessary to stand up to and plow through the bureaucracy and status quo surrounding any attempts to establish a community garden on city property. Many have tried it over the past years and failed. For almost a year now the Garland Community Garden at 4022 Naaman School Road stands as testimony to the success of my persistence and unwillingness to take "no" as an acceptable answer from those in city government. However, I am now totally drained and obviously devoid of any public relations skills--not that I had a surplus of those talents to begin with. It is time for someone with more patience and willingness to deal with the status quo than I have to pick up the leadership role for Loving Garland Green.
The straw for me came on Monday, December 15 when I received the email from the Neighborhood Vitality Department informing me that Loving Garland Green was in violation of city codes because of the "trash bags" that were in the Garland Community Garden (actually bags filled with clean leaves). From my point of view, that email and the complaints behind it mirrored an insurmountable level of ignorance regarding how many in my community and other communities all over the USA are damning our environment for future generations for the sake of appearances--and false appearances I might add.
Every year here in Garland thousands of bags of leaves that could be used to create garden soil are hauled off to the landfill. An organization that tries to save a few hundred bags of these leaves to create soil to grow edibles, instead of being rewarded for their efforts, is criticized and cited for a code violation.
This is bad enough, but the same city department issuing this notice also hands out taxpayer money for grants that support improving golf course properties and signs for private association entrances while ignoring requests to fund projects that create vegetable gardens in the homes of Garland residents.
In the name of hope I would like to add there are people in Garland who do know better and who are coming forward. For example, a man came down to the park yesterday when I was working down there to drop off four bags of leaves for the garden. He said, "Better here than in the landfill."
What will I do now?
I will continue to garden in my own yard and also at 4022 Naaman School Road, and I will continue to be a member of Loving Garland Green. And I will continue to speak up on issues that are important to me. However, since I will not be President of Loving Garland Green, no one can construe or claim that what I say is representative of that organization.
Stepping down will also give me more free time to finish a book I'm writing on my experiences this past year in establishing a community garden here in Garland.
What can you do?
1.When you clean out those veggies from your refrigerator that you never got around to eating, forget about your garbage disposal. Never use it again to grind up veggies. (While probably not a cardinal sin, use of a garbage disposal for veggies that have gone bad must surely be a venial sin.) Get a 5 gallon bucket from the local hardware store--one that comes with a lid. When you discover a slimy bag of lettuce, or a tomato that your thumb goes through when you pick it up, toss that stuff in the five-gallon bucket. Then, if you live in Garland, Texas, bring it down to the Garland Community Garden at 4022 Naaman School Road and dump it into one of our compost bins. We need your veggies gone bad.
2. Instead of putting it in a bin, compost veggies and other organic matter right in the garden whenever possible as this is the least work and the cheapest route. Of course most manures [except for cold manures such as rabbit, Llama and Alpaca] should not be put directly in the bed as they can burn the roots of plants and they might contain bacteria and other pathogens harmful to people and animals. Cow, chicken and horse manure must be hot-composted in a bin for a few months prior to introducing to your plant beds. When you compost right in the garden where you will be installing plants and seeds, you eliminate the back-breaking work of transferring the compost to a wagon, hauling it to the bed, and then shoveling it into the garden. You also eliminate the expense of containers for your compost.
1) Make a cylinder out of chicken wire that is about 12 inches in diameter and 2.5 feet tall. Weave three or four bamboo sticks vertically around it for support. Dig a hole in the middle of your bed about a foot deep and put the chicken wire cylinder in it. Then, when you toss those veggies away you can toss directly into your garden. Since vegetables are high in water content, this will help reduce the need to water the area where you have installed these compost baskets. The roots of your plants will seek out these nutrients.
2) Follow the lasagna garden bed method (layers of organic matter such as leaves, cardboard, decaying veggies and rabbit manure) for creating the soil in your vegetable garden year after year. When fall is almost over, drive around your neighborhood picking up leaves that your neighbors have bagged. Put these leaves on top of your existing bed and water thoroughly. Mix rabbit manure and vegetable scraps with the manure and then cover with black 6 mil plastic. Let everything cook until March when you can start planting some vegetables.
Regarding the Top Leadership of Garland
In terms of the leadership of Garland's Mayor Athas, I want to be perfectly clear to all that he has been a huge supporter of our community garden. In fact, I'm quite certain that without his enthusiastic support, it never would have come into existence. The mayor has personally visited our garden many times and he has even attended several Loving Garland Green meetings. He also attended our first installation of an urban garden in the home of a Garland resident. In fact, he even did some of the physical labor involved in installing this square foot garden. In addition, the mayor has made it a point to drop by Loving Garland Green's booth at the local Garland Marketplace throughout the season without fail. Mayor Athas is very supportive of urban gardens in our community and I totally appreciate all that he and his assistant, Beth, have done for our organization. Our City Manager, Bill Dollar, has also been very supportive of the garden. For example, on the day that Loving Garland Green signed our contract with the city, Mr. Dollar had the city deliver a truckload of mulch to our garden area.