It’s challenging enough, logistically, to leave one’s home to go traveling for three months (although at this point I’ve done that so many times in my life that I’m accustomed to it). But it takes it to a whole different level when you are invested in cultivating a particular piece of land.
In the spring, I was involved in caring for three different sites: our own home veggie garden, the community orchard down the street, and the new dye garden at Carolina Community Farm and Garden. And then — as you know, if you’ve been stopping by lately — we embarked on our epic tour of rural places in France, Bulgaria, Italy, and Finland. While we were away, the merciless southern sun baked this city in 100-110 F temperatures. I let go of any expectations of what I’d find when I came back.
Actually, I knew that the orchard would be in good hands. A number of folks in our community are committed to working there regularly. I got email updates over the summer of work parties that took place, with photos and all. Coming back, I find this lovely, lush green space — with much work to do in the future, yes, but a defined space starting to take shape…
Over at Carolina Community Farm and Garden, the capable manager Allie kept looking after the dye garden I planted in the spring. The dye plants fared remarkably well. Only the Black-eyed Susans really took a hit in the heat, and the Japanese indigo bed fell to a dodder infestation and had to be completely uprooted. The purple basil, madder root, lady’s bedstraw, marigolds, dyer’s chamomile, elecampane and hollyhock are all going strong. We’re now planning a dyeing demo for the students in a few weeks.
What I didn’t expect was coming home to find our own raised beds actually producing and doing well:
A guerrilla gardener friend had kept our garden watered and neatly maintained through the summer. We had fresh kale and basil ready to eat as soon as we got back home, and found a few interesting surprise additions, such as broad leaf plantain, sorrel, Red Thai roselle and narrow-leafed arugula thrown in. Thank you, Michael!
In other words, if you’re caring for a piece of land and have to leave town for three months… find your allies (and michaels) in the community!