January 15, 2009

The Fruits of Laboring Together

Our friends at the 7th Street Garden are continuing their transition to the bigger, better Gage-Eckington location, and they're getting lots of help along the way. Community members and volunteers helped prep the new site and relocate much of the garden, and a really cool group called Casey Trees recently awarded them a small grant to plant some fledgling trees at the new location. As they wait for the new trees to grow, they're eager to transplant the fruit trees that are located at the old site, adjacent to Bread for the City.

I recently took some time with Bread for the City's resident tree-whisperer, Kendra Sudano (who is currently on leave and dearly missed), to sit down among the trees and commune with them. Turns out there's a lot to say about trees! Here's an excerpt from what Kendra told me:

These trees aren't native and they're growing apart from their brethren--together only in these small groups, and that makes for a fragile habitat. At the same time, and I don't want to anthropomorphize the trees, but I'd like to believe that these trees are stronger for having grown in this environment. I feel like these trees are strengthened by this site, where humans themselves are more diverse. We know that biological and cultural and ecological diversity go hand in hand, so though these trees are growing alone in a habitat that's not natural for them, they're also growing as part of a community that is itself learning to celebrate its diversity and channel its manifold energies into something that is once again a productive, plentiful ecosystem. Maybe the trees themselves are free to grow stronger and better because the humans that have surrounded and tended to them are trying to learn how to communicate.

The 7th Street Garden did a great job of pulling groups of people together that are too often separated by class, race, and a number of other perceived differences. Gardens like these help bring neighborhoods together in a shared venture and spirit (plus, duh, grow food that will feed people who live right along or near the reclaimed land). In the Garden’s new site, which is spacious and otherwise would be abandoned, it is even better poised to be a {pun alert} growth center {end pun alert} for our community.
The story of the Garden’s transition was recently featured on NPR: you can listen to that piece here, as well as a nerdy-in-the-good-way piece about the trees of our nation’s capital (which is apparently known by some as the "City of Trees").

We want to help make sure that the trees from the old site can continue growing at the new site. But we'll need the right equipment, like a tree spade, and a truck w/ a bed that lowers to the ground. Contact me at gbloom {at} breadforthecity {dot} org if you can help us find the right tools for the job.

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