Thursday, June 21, 2012

A knock on a stranger's door

Today after thinking about the neighborhood fruit sharing idea and how I would build a similar project here in Victoria, I decided I might as well act on it.

As I drove to work, with fifteen minutes to spare, I made a stop off Navarro Street two block before my usual turn to the Advocate. I pulled over, illegally against traffic, and turned off the engine to my car. I stepped out and onto some truly lush Saint Augustine grass. There was no curb next to the street so I stepped right onto it from the car. My heart was racing and I could feel the blood rushing to
 limbs and my brain signaling to pluck the precious fruits from their limbs. I was beginning to sweat.

Before I could think any further I was pulling open the screen door and knocking on the glossy black door to a house I had never been too. A small sign of a Boston Terrier, probably painted by hand, read "This home is protected by a Boston Terrier." Or at least something like that.

This is a different house that has a pomegranate
tree with fruit on it, but it's in the same area. 

A man answered the door and out poured these words, that I didn't rehearse but probably should have. I explained that he didn't know me and that I couldn't help but notice he had two pomegranate trees outside of his home. He acknowledged them and told me they weren't ready to pick yet but that I could help myself to them if I wanted.

Given a perfect opportunity to explain to him my idea, I told him that I would love to pick them but that I would wait until they were ready. Hopefully, in a not-too-hurried way, I was able to tell him what I was hoping to achieve by disturbing his afternoon watching television in his air-conditioned home. Fruit sharing community this, get people together that, share recipes and network, blah blah blah. I think he understood what I was getting at.

After I spilled my beans and handed him one of my business cards, then introduced myself – all ass backwards, I know – I want on my merry way to work. Oh, but I forgot to add, that he did mention he was interested in helping get this thing started. Its hard to tell what he was thinking – because I didn't know him – but I think he may have been interested in helping me out.

I'm pretty excited about it. There isn't much else to do, but to wait until more fruit pop up and I conjure up enough courage to knock on more doors to talk to people about sharing their bounty or knowledge of where the bounty lay.

No word from the community just yet, but like I said, I will have to keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Help from Mother Nature

 The Crossroads were lucky enough to have some rain today. There was a fair amount off rain in the downtown are of Victoria and it brought a smile to my to know that O.U.R. Community Garden was getting a nice soaking from Mother Nature herself.

So far O.U.R. garden has produced a generous amount of vegetables. Rosa Linda Garcia, the mastermind behind the idea, and I tried to keep track of everything we pulled, but lost count along the way. Between the two of doing most of the picking, we need to find a way to document our harvests when the other isn't there. Luke found a nice art set in the dumpster next to the garden so hopefully, we will have our method of keeping track in line soon. But given the way the plants produce and how long ago we lost count, I know the numbers are right around or more than: 150 cucumbers, 200 chile pequin, 60 okra, 7 watermelons, nearly 100 tomatoes, 20 bell peppers, 20 summer squash and soon we will have a handful of weighty butternut squash.

Of all the vegetables we've been lucky enough to harvest a small handful go to those that work in the garden and the rest goes to Christ's Kitchen,  a local soup kitchen, the shut-in ministry and to the Our Lady of Sorrows ReSale Shoppe where it is distributed to other parishioners community members in need. The best thing about being a contributing member of the garden is knowing that the food is fresh and unadulterated but man-made fertilizers and pesticides. All the things in our garden thrive and grow via the dirt and sunshine exactly how we find them every morning or evening when we are there. Knowing the vegetables are fresh and healthy for everyone who eats them is the most gratifying for me.

Along those same lines, I have been trying to get a foraging community up and going. Here in Victoria there is an abundance of food growing out in the open. Not barricaded behind fences and or hidden behind houses. They're growing at the park, along apartment buildings and railroad tracks. I don't know what kind of response, but I hope to get something together soon. The pomegranates are turning red, the grapes are turning purple and its time to start making wonderful eats out of all that Mother Nature is telling us to eat.  I'll keep you posted.