Sunday, September 11, 2011
A Sanctuary in the City
The arrival of fall brings with it cooler temperatures and changing colors. It’s also the time of year when I look forward to harvesting the crops from my garden.
I live in a condo and don‘t have access to my own garden space at home, so having a plot at the Soo Line Community Garden is like having my own horticultural sanctuary in the city.
Nestled between Garfield and Harriet and bordered by the Greenway in South Minneapolis, the land was once the site of a grain elevator. After that was torn down in the late 1980s, it sat barren and stagnant in a state of tax forfeiture but has since been transformed and is today a destination for gardeners, cyclists, walkers and bird watchers.
The first plots were dug in 1992, and today there are close to a hundred. With the development of the Greenway, the land became very desirable and for years the specter of development loomed over gardeners’ carefully-nurtured plots.
But the custodians of the Soo Line, along with many residents, fought long and hard to secure the land for the gardeners of the future, finally seeing their efforts rewarded when administration of the site passed to the Park & Recreation Board in 2010 who subsequently granted approval for its permanent use as a community garden.
The surrounding neighborhood is very dense and many neighbors don’t have garden space of their own so the Soo Line also acts as a gathering point, and as somewhere for people to interact and to come together in a public space.
Next time you are nearby, or even if you find yourself walking or biking along the Greenway, take a moment and stop by. Walk through the garden and you’ll see many tiny miracles happening every day. In Spring--once the snow has melted--perhaps you’ll see just a few old leaves and last year’s perennials having emerged through winter’s frozen embrace; but wait a few weeks and you’ll be greeted by buds unfolding, leaves unfurling, and a sudden swirl of color.
Summer is my favorite time at the Soo Line. Long evening hours filled with scents from new flowers and many vibrant colors. My heart expands at the sight of day lilies and sunflowers swaying in the summer breeze, flowers and crops of many shapes and sizes, and at butterflies fluttering gracefully from one flower to another. I especially love to go there in the fading light, an hour or so before darkness. My garden also takes stock of my moods, as digging in the dirt is medicine for my soul.
September means longer shadows, shorter hours and petals that shrivel in the fall. Longer days of golden sun may have come and gone, but that also means that I’ll soon be enjoying many meals made from what I have grown.
Just last evening I returned from the garden with a bag filled with tomatoes, bell peppers, cherry peppers, rosemary, lima beans, tomatillos, and parsley. Likely I can leave my beets in the ground until well into October—the colder nights seem to enhance their flavor. And after that? I’ll just wait patiently until next spring - when rebirth comes again.