I drove through the yellow hills of California on a clear skied day, which is most days in the summer months. I picked up an old friend from his parent’s house. He put his suitcase in my trunk, gave his dad a hug, and got in the passenger seat. He buckled, turned to me, and smiled with perfectly kept white teeth.
It had been two years since we saw each other last. We hugged, and he pointed out the last time we saw each other was two years ago.
On the drive to Tahoe National Forest, I asked him:
“What do you think the world needs more of?”
He laughed. He smiled.
He didn’t answer right away. I did not expect him to. He was a thoughtful man. Last I saw him, we were swimming naked in a waterfall with a group of friends past midnight. He shouted at the top of his lungs a poetic verse he had memorized, just for fun.
At last he said, “the world needs more community gardens.”
“What! I love that answer,” I smiled. “Say more?”
He launched into an explanation of the Detroit’s housing crisis. Property taxes were flaming hot out the wazoo, pushing many out of their homes and onto the streets. These tenets were not replaced. Vacant lots and vacant houses began to wither away.
“People have begun to plant gardens in these vacant lots. And it’s technically trespassing…in best way possible,” he grinned.
His eyes lit up. “Can you imagine what it would be like to walk down a street, and the whole block has apple trees hanging over the sidewalk? Plenty, abundant, and okay for you to pick one and eat it. And the next street had something else.”
“That’s a beautiful thing to imagine,” I nodded.
Communal gardens would ensure people not only know where their food comes from, but how it works, and what it takes to grow.
“The world would be more connected to the source of life,” I said.
“Yes, and people would take more responsibility for their health,” he said.
“If grocery stores go down, or there’s a power outage, we are not totally without resources.”
“The government doesn’t control the prices of your backyard,” he smiled so big I felt my inside temperature rise a degree.
The idea of community gardens hits on collaboration, which leads to interdependence. It starts however, with independence: knowing how to provide for yourself. How to grow food.
Then, (hopefully) it leads to sharing both knowledge and resources.
Looking out for your neighbor and your neighbor looking out for you is an ideal world I want to be a part of.
There is a scene in the anime movie Wolf Children where a mother moves her two half wolf, half human children out to the country. She fails in teaching herself how to grow potatoes until her neighbor teaches her. He instructs her to tend to a plot 10x the size she was originally attempting. “But we don’t need that much,” she said, thinking only of herself and her two children.
Later in the film she harvests enough potatoes for her family and her neighbors, who’s crop were destroyed. Her surplus saved their lives. Life is easier when we work together.
So, my friend thinks the world needs more community gardens.
What he said was: “Self sufficiency is the ultimate form of anarchy.”
What I remembered was: “Community gardens are the ultimate form of anarchy.”