Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Meeting for Bexley community garden report by Bexley Public Radio

Bexley Community Garden meeting at city hall, Monday March 1, 2010.

Monday evening walk to Bexley municipal building. I’m attending the public meeting for the Bexley community garden organization. A comfortable late winter evening in Bexley. Temperature in the mid-thirties perhaps. No wind. Sidewalks are clear of ice and snow.

Giuseppe’s Retrovo is busy but not crowded. The bar is half full.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Bexley city council chambers. With the exception of the Bexley high school cafeteria, the city council chambers are the most utilitarian room in town. An appropriate meeting place for people, including myself, who enjoy getting their hands soiled in their gardens. What is more utilitarian than growing your own flowers. And vegetables. Bexley is a community where flowers are part of the practical daily life. And then I wonder why, if flowers are utilitarian, the city council chambers have no flowers?

I arrive at city hall at 6:25 p.m. A quick guess informs me of a crowd size of about a dozen and a half in the council chambers. They are all chatting. No one is silent. No one is ignored. Chatting.

There is a sign-in sheet asking for name, address, telephone number and email address. I sign-in and begin chatting with two women women nearby. I learn later that one of them is the president of the community garden organization and the other is a volunteer mentor for the community garden.

Still chatting, I hear sentence fragments and individual words in nearby conversations. The words I hear are not surprising in the context of a meeting for a community garden. I hear “organic” many times. “Heirloom” and “heirloom seeds” and , surprising me, I also hear “heirloom chickens.” Also several times “compost,” and “soil pH.” Later I meet the woman discussing “heirloom chickens” and other “heirloom animals.” She has a really crative mind and recognizes opportunities and connections that most people overlook.

Some of the chatter of conversation is simple introductions, names for new faces. We are all just waiting for the meeting to be called to order.

The people and the conversation all have an energy that gives a hint of spring. Of course this is a gathering of gardeners and some are talking of forcing forsythia in a sun room, starting their tomato seeds and so on. Jim Tornes has given us some of his forced forsthia and the yellow blossoms greet us each morning with spring.

The people talk of spring activity but we are dressed for winter. Sweaters, gray and blue colors. Only one woman is dressed in a fuchsia top. But even that turns out to be a winter sweater. Among the men, more corduroy is being worn than in the grandstand at an autumn horse race.

Still, the idle conversation is about spring.

Punctual, at 6:30 p.m. the meeting is called to order by Alysha Clous who identifies herself as the organization’s president. She softens the authority of the title by expressing uncertainty about how she received this mantle of leadership. Perhaps acclamation. Perhaps consensus. Maybe even indifference. She also softens the edges of the organization and describes her uncertainty if she is president of a garden, a plot of ground, or an organization.

In any event, Alysha runs an efficient and orderly meeting. A meeting where not a minute is wasted. Leadership os like the members of this group. An efficient, objective-driven group of people. Refreshing and classic Bexley. This is unlike the darker side of Bexley where there are too many chiefs and not enough workers. This is a group of individuals eager to get to their work: breaking the soil, planting, watering, weeding, watering some more, and then waiting patiently. And watering some more. Weeding and watering some more.

The organization’s other officers are Bruce Langer and Jay Brand. Bruce, a longtime city employee, is treasurer and also deals with many of the practical details of this significant municipal project. Bruce claimed that from his garden plot the prior year, he harvested only four ears of corm. Jay deals with the garden operations. Currently, Jay is involved in the design and layout of the individual garden plots. Jay also said that there will be two spigots for water at the community garden this year. There will be from seventy to ninety actual garden plots in his design this year and a simpler, more stream-line design process will be used. The city will once again plow the garden but this will be the final year the city provides this assistance. Next year the gardeners will have to make other arrangements for plowing the earth. Before the planting can begin this year, the snow will have to melt and delivery of new topsoil, wood chips and mulch will have to be accomplished.

I make an actual count of the attendance. My original estimate was close. The actual count is nineteen individuals including one married couple. There are eleven women and eight men. Three of the attendees are officers or managers of the project. Ages appear the usual Bexley mix of young parents and older parents and enough people with grey hair to give reassurance that there is experience, maybe even wisdom, in this gathering.

Alysha asks for the attendees to introduce themselves and describe their gardening experience. Many of the people want their children to have a gardening experience. Others simply like fresh vegetables. Some have gardened since they were children and a few are inexperienced. Others seem to want to garden for memories of their parents.

Two women, Diane Gosser and Barb Neubig, offer their assistance as mentors to other gardeners. Beside mentoring at the community garden, Dianne and Barb will be teaching a gardening class at the Bexley Public Library. The starting date for their library course is Tuesday, April 20. Topics will include soil improvement, crops for early spring and fall, composting, vertical gardening and mulching. A full list of topics will be available at the library. Details will also be available in the Bexley Parks and Recreation spring brochure.

Jennifer Bahan-Fenton is the woman who, before the meeting began, was talking about “heirloom animals.” During the day, she is an employee of Strader’s Garden Center on King Avenue. She has made arrangements with her employer for the community garden members to have the same discount as Strader employees. She has also organized an heirloom seed exchange and invites community garden members to contact her to exchange seeds. Jennifer has four chickens at her city residence.

Another appealing offer to the group comes from Mary Douglas. Mary offers services as a substitute gardener. Like a substitute teacher, Mary offers to assist gardeners who are away on vacation or otherwise can’t do the usual garden chores like watering on occasion.

Other items discussed are the improvement of the soil for the new growing season. Critters that bother the crops. One person says that last year the only problem came from “two-footed” critters that stole some cabbage. German thieves perhaps? Involving school students in the project and a home economics teacher who will make the effort to garden with her students. Scholarships and other discounts that are available to pay the ground rent for a plot. Surplus food donations to Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Recognition is given to the members of the Bexley Tree Commission who have donated money to the community garden. Other grants were recognized from the Scotts Company, Bexley-Whitehall Rotary Club and SWACO. Amy Bodiker (sp?) was also recognized for her successful grant-writing.

The cost of a plot is $30.00.

Questions? Call Bruce Langer at 559-4255.

The meeting ends at 7:30 p.m. The walk home is enjoyable. No wind and clean sidewalks. Giuseppe’s is crowded now. It is Monday night. Looking through the window I see the waiters and waitresses busy and, as usual, fleet of foot.

The bar is filled so I don’t go in. I’ll delay a cocktail until I walk home.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. WCRX-LP Editorial Collective.


Anonymous said...

Who wrote this jibbersh? Does this person not speak in complete sentences? Not only poorly written, but most boring piece of garbage I've ever read on ANY blog.

WCRX-LP Editorial collective said...

Bob Palderone is the author. The WCRX-LP editorial collective thinks it is a well-written, informative piece.

beauxmots said...

I've been a professional writer for more than 25 years and I LIKED THIS BLOG ENTRY. Why would anyone be so mean to someone writing about a community garden? PS. You don't have to use complete sentences to write well. So there.

WCRX-LP Editorial collective said...

Thanks "beauxmots." Fragments? My memory: fragments. My notes. Fragments. My sentences. Why should they be different?

Spelling errors in the text. For sure. Consequences of a cocktail and writing from notes at night.

Too much detail or too little. The first. Keeps the pencil busy. The second. Keeps the eraser warm.

Jibbersh? Meaning please? Or is it just a misspelling? Jibberish. Maybe. "Boring piece of garbage." A secret code reference to composting? "Does this person not speak in complete sentences?" Secret code reference to organic gardening. Beauxmots. Thanks for your comment. Decipher Anonymous' text even more.