This spring we embarked on an experiment. We refer to this as "The Community Gardens" or "593," "589," "377," "Chenango," or "The Warehouse." These are the five gardens we have taken on in the neighborhood essentially as practice spaces. In two of the five, we haven't recieved permission. They were just close by spaces uncared for. So we've colonized them. 593 is my house. 589 is next door, but a rental, not owner occupied. Matt the owner has essentially given me the yard. I tend to it for him but I get to do as I wish (within reason). 377 is again not owner occupied and the owner has agreed to allow me to "tend the land" in my own way.
Here is the experiment: we receive no payments from the owners.
It is my belief that with these gardens we can, directly or indirectly, create enough value to justify the expense. At the heart of this is the belief that operating in your own neighborhood (each of these spaces are within four blocks of our shop) reduces the expense of travel, logistics, and monitoring to where things can be cared for as if they were ones own home garden [which, also, we may argue, they are]. And from here, the value producing activities - which produce very small values per activity - can be engaged with such intensity and frequency that it allows them to add up to the investment.
In a nutshell, the expenses are plants;materials such as composts, mulch, fertilizers; labor; and anxiety (heat and drought have been a real threat this season). But the gardens give us spaces to reuse plants that would otherwise be thrown out. The forecasted work helped justify adding Caitlin onto the crew in anticipation of an extra (+/-) day of work a week on the "community gardens." We are experminenting with some cut flower production - which has led us to constantly be sharing flowers with friends and clients. It is OUR neighborhood and therefore has a value that can't be put on a balancesheet. It has allowed us to develop relationships with many people we would have never know. The energies expended have led directly to two other small paying projects. We always need material and stories for blogging and social media. And the list goes on and on forever.
All five gardens are registed on the Garden Walk of Buffalo 2016 and will be open. I don't expect any ooohs and ahhhs, unless they are viewed in the context of "Hey. Look what they did with these previously uncared for spaces with the smallest of budgets."
I will try and present materials around and about them via this blog and social media throughout this week leading up to Garden Walk.
Landscape designer and Proprietor of Buffalo Horticulture