I spent the morning of my birthday doing what to me is the best way to celebrate: working at our community orchard with my little family and friends, spreading newspaper and cardboard and compost and leaves on the ground to make new, fertile soil for future edibles of all kinds. Especially after a week during which I’ve been, well, flat-out flat out and discouraged by a ridiculous cascade of unfortunate events — including a computer crash and a fairly significant loss of data — the morning sunshine and the physical work felt like the best way to begin anew.
Last month, my co-designer and I unveiled our design for this site that we’d been working on all winter. Soon afterwards, the implementation of the plan began. A couple of weeks ago, we had a work party to make pathways, laying old garden hoses to outline the new paths and filling them in with wood chips. Today, we continued the ongoing sheet mulching effort (laying cardboard or newspaper as a weed barrier, compost on top, and mulch such as leaves, straw or wood chips on top). Next, we are plotting a big group effort to hand-dig some sub-surface drainage trenches to resolve the drainage issues on site: the trenches will lead excess water to a wetland/rain garden, giving the fruit tree roots some room to breathe.
And so, like magic, the design map I drew this winter is starting to come to life. That two-dimensional plan, drawn and imagined on paper, is being transformed into a living landscape. The parts that, on the final design map, I colored with green pencils to mark the cover cropped areas, are now covered by clover so thick it looks like bright green velvety carpet. Where I used brown pencils to mark the pathways, we’ve now colored inside the lines with rich, brown, crunchy chips on which, we hope, many feet will tread in the future as they walk around the orchard. And amidst all of this, the fruit trees are starting to bud, with shy, pink new blossoms and my daughter, squealing with delight in my backpack baby carrier, is growing up seeing her parents doing exactly what she likes to do: playing in dirt.
It’s been a good day.