It’s not all that big, only four feet by eight feet, but its my slice of heaven. ‘It’ is my plot at the Maplewood Community Garden. My ‘back 40’ is only 32 square feet, yet I have managed to cram in 20 years of pent up gardening energy into my .0007 of an acre.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to garden. Flowers, fruits and vegetables have always graced my yard or my windowsill. Early on in my youth, it was a huge sunny yard. My parents grew tomatoes, corn, carrots and off towards the far end of the yard, raspberries. I helped by weeding and eating the raspberries. Then we moved and left that suburban farm behind. It was replaced by a terraced yard with a few fruit trees and again, a raspberry bramble. And when I got married, I traded that all for an African Violet on the windowsill in an apartment.
When we moved to Maplewood 12 years ago, we found the perfect house with an imperfect yard. It was shady. This meant no tomatoes. I had resigned myself to never having another veggie garden again.
That was until I saw an notice for the community garden. On a cold January night I made my way over to Maplewood Town Hall for the first meeting. I was hooked. Over the course of the next week months, the garden got up and running.
Now, when I walk into the garden to tend my plot, I am simply happy. It is one of my favorite places because it is a simple pleasure that had been denied for so long. I stop by almost daily. For the first time in over 20 years, I have sweet tomatoes. I have crammed 17 tomato plants into that plot – yes, I’m making up for lost time! I have basil – three different kinds. And I have sunflowers! How could you not be happy looking at a sunflower? I am happy to have made new friends in my fellow gardeners. I’m happy because my child gets to see where food really comes from. I’m happy because the community garden has brought me closer to my community – not just my fellow gardening neighbors, but the to the greater community of the earth as well.