It has been so beautiful these last few days; I am convinced it is truly spring. Yesterday I spent time in the yard of a lovely couple and their small children. They had dug up the entire side yard and were on the way towards becoming part of the new generation of urban farmers here in London. What a treat it was.
Their corner lot is wide, facing south and west, a great exposure for their venture. They created two huge beds in shapes that were meaningful to them, adding a layer of private meaning to a public venture. They filled the beds with compost, and are off to a good start. At least one of their families has a gardening background so they are well supported and mentored in this venture.
Last year they invested in a home orchard of pears and plums, apples, and sour cherries, to name a few. (I met them through the pruning workshop Becky and I held a few weeks back and was gratified to see that they had already used the information they learned then. They had planted their trees well, and moved a couple as they began to understand about laying out their gardens. They transplanted perennials inherited from the previous owner to one section of the yard leaving the most advantageous spots for edibles, medicinals and other useful plants. Although they are committed to an edible landscape, they added a few new perennials that had caught their eye.
It was lovely and inspiring. Ah yes, this CAN be done in the city. We talked about their planting strategies within the large beds so they can easily tend the plants without walking on the soil and compacting it. Would they stick to row crops during these first few years, or move into small areas of like-plants mixed together? We discussed the layout for a *Three Sister’s Garden*, a method of companion planting based on the indigenous combination of corn, beans, and squash, in which each of the plants helps and supports the others. We tried out a method for cleaning up the perennials and cleared a common assumption that just because perennials come up yearly they need no care. We even began looking at the yard from the point of view of how it works energetically so that the nurturing they create within their household and gardens is cycled back through the yard AND shines out into the neighbourhood.
Feeling fed by spending time with these young people and their beginning of a true urban farm-garden, I returned home to continue cleaning out last year’s debris, welcoming back perennials and bud-swelling shrubs, rounding up the forget-me-nots, and revelling in the abundant life force bursting forth from the earth.