My ideal garden.

It recently occurred to me that the random, swampy fenced-in-area in our subdivision could be filled in and made into a community garden, and I’ve taken the first steps towards forming an initiative to that effect. Reading up on community gardening, I stumbled upon the Dervaes family in Pasadena.

Their website, Path to Freedom, is just plain old inspiring. They have converted their 1/10th acre plot in Pasadena, California, into an organic farm that not only provides them with nearly all their grocery needs (it produces 3 tons of produce annually), but also provides them with a viable income (from teaching classes and selling the excess produce). Their site is a tad on the evangelistic side for my taste, but I’m willing to forgive them that given the value of their “mission”.

It’s the kind of farm I’ve dreamed about: organic and entirely self-sufficient, every element in it serving multiple purposes. (I was going to cite another webpage here about a commune in Oregon that does the same thing, with detailed information on the way to, say, set up rabbit hutches over big collect-o boxes so that in one go you get rid of wilted produce and make meat, compost, and earthworms, but somehow I lost the bookmark to the site. -grumble-) It’s my dream to someday have a little farm like that. I don’t think I could handle more than an acre by myself, so it wouldn’t have to be large. And since Josh and I have just agreed to start saving for our “someday” house (which may be as little as two and as many as ten years in the future) I feel like I can start dreaming a teeny bit more seriously.

I’d like to have an apiary at the base of the gardens, perhaps not for honey or wax (though wouldn’t that be cool?!), but primarily to pollinate the vegetables and increase productivity. I do okay here in my teeny little veggie patch by pollinating the big things (squash) by hand, but I’d go nuts if it were any bigger! I’m also planning on getting a few chickens for egg-laying (since roosters aren’t allowed within city limits, I don’t think I could raise them for meat, since two hens can’t procreate. I would like to, though). They will also help consume garden pests such as caterpillars. I want a couple kinder does (mini-goats) for milking. Goat cheese is fairly easy to make, too! And oh, a compost bed… I’d like one of those too, please.

As far as animals are concerned, that’s about it… The vegetables are another animal in themselves. Picture rows upon rows of tomatoes of every variety; cucumbers spilling over their supports, waiting to become pickles or salads; beans twining skyward, zucchini and rhubarb spreading out their monstrous leaves like prehistoric weeds, melons tumbling down their hills. I’d have it all divided into little sections which I would rotate annually: a little orchard with a couple apple trees, a pear tree, a cherry, a peach, and a lemon; a root-vegetable patch for onions, garlic, celery, fennel, carrots, and all kinds of potatoes; a soft-fruit patch for such perennials as rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and asparagus; and a couple patches for seasonal vegetable crops as well.

The vegetable garden at Mt. Vernon is especially intriguing, as it fed an entire estate despite its relatively small size. It got away with that by consisting only of useful things: the low fences surrounding each crop were actually espaliered fruit trees, for instance. Such efficiency appeals to me not only as something very Green, but also as an organizational challenge.

Since Greebelt’s Garden Club has an assortment of vegetable patches that they distribute for free not far from my home, there’s a chance that I may not have to wait ten years to put these dreams into practice. Perhaps I’ll get one next spring, if the community garden thing doesn’t work out!

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