written by Kira Montagno, Assistant Operations Manager
Last week, Kristina, one of the Co-op’s produce associates, approached me about helping her with a community garden. Kristina lives in West Philly and was given a large plot at a community garden, three doors down from where she lives. The garden consists of two plots – one is for Kristina and the other belongs to an older man, who grows and sells a variety of produce.
Growing up my mother and father always had a garden or plot at a community garden where they could grow their own food. I remember they would return after a long, early morning, carrying baskets full of vegetables and herbs that they had just harvested. The smell of fresh dill, cherry tomatoes, and Thai basil would fill the kitchen and I knew lunch was going to be delicious.
Because of my parents’ influence, I have an insatiable urge to be outside planting something, however, after moving to into a third floor apartment in the city, my hopes of having an outdoor garden slowly diminished. After learning about the long waiting lists for local garden plots around my neighborhood, I reluctantly gave up all my desires. But, the urge of the early morning sun kissing my skin as I sweat to death while digging a hole for strawberries still beckoned me as I walked past local gardens.
When Kristina took me to her garden, we quickly realized this was not going to be easy feat as we laid eyes on the 14 x 25 ft. plot with no access to running water. But, nevertheless, we both remained excited to start this new adventure.
Currently, our biggest problem is watering our garden with fresh water. With no hose in sight, I asked Kristina how we are going to water the plants. She pointed to three large barrels of dirty, mosquito-ridden water – not our idea of fresh water. Kristina and I are looking into getting fresh water delivered every other week, but we have not made a commitment yet. Instead, we’ve opted to lug around 5-gallon pickle buckets full water until we find a better system.
My first day gardening in the hot sun was back breaking, but it was worth it. Community residents and passerbyers praised us for putting the plot to good use. In the past week, Kristina and I have already planted squash, strawberries, peppers, kohlrabi, tomatoes, kale, spinach, sage, and dill. We are excited about growing our own vegetables not only for ourselves, but for our friends and local community.
As the summer goes on, I will be updating our progress on our garden. Hopefully this season brings great produce, sun kissed skin, and fulfilled dreams.