The Garden of Judah

written by Kristina Hill, Produce Associate

Lawd!! Ah which part me get this pickney from?!” I laugh uncontrollably after hearing this from my grandmother while talking on the phone with her about the garden. I’m rambling on to her about what’s all in the garden and she couldn’t be any happier.

With both sides of my family being farmers, my journey into gardening started pretty early in life. My mother’s father was a farmer in the countryside of Jamaica and my father’s grandparents ran a farm in Maryland. These traditions of growing fresh food have been passed on through the generations with my grandmother being the biggest influence in my life. Every summer I would visit her down in Florida and help pick pigeon peas, cassava, and other varieties of veggies and fruit. It always amazed me how much produce could be grown in such small spaces – I knew that erecting this community garden could actually be a certainty.

community garden

The Garden of Judah in the sunlight

It has been a month since starting my little community garden devotedly named ‘The Garden of Judah’. Things have been on the rise with the space since Kira, Sara, and I began planting. My main goal was to get this up and running quickly so that we have enough time to harvest and plant new items as the growing season progressed. Luckily, with all of our hard work, we have been able to grow a range of items since we first reported on the garden.

It’s about 7:30 a.m. and as I continue to converse with my grandmother, the sun slowly creeps over the old brick church standing right across from the garden. Between the morning dew and the light coming through, it seems as if the garden is coming alive. “I wish you could see this, the zucchini flowers are open!” I exclaim to my grandmother. The delight of walking through the rows of veggies and seeing their transformation from starter plants to full grown crops is a pleasing experience. I would say so far we have not run into any problems with the plants. Planning out what we need and when we need it was a big key factor. Right now we are starting to gather materials for trellises. We are trying to be as creative as possible, so what we have been doing is researching different yet fun ways to create the proper structures. Our cucumbers, edamame, beans, cantaloupe, peas, squash and watermelon are budding exquisitely and soon will need to start training on the trellises.

“I’m so pleased with you baby, but don’t you think you have a lot growing in that space?” my grandmother asked. Honestly, that thought did run across my mind a couple times. It started to become an obsession – Kira jokingly said, “You are becoming a plant hoarder!”

“But it’s just four more plants, we can fit them in!” I retorted back.

Right now, the garden is at capacity. Currently we have about 30 tomato plants, 24 spring mix plants and 26 pepper plants. This is the most either of us have grown and it’s truly a learning experience for all of us. The effort we have put in thus far has even had an impact on my block. Almost every time I step into the garden I am greeted by people who tell me that we are doing a good job or that the variations of colors really make the neighborhood shine. This fills me with pride and encourages me to do more in the upcoming months.

Once the crops become mature the plan was to eat, share, and sell some of the produce that is grown in the garden. Personally, I have plans to use the funds from the veggies and fruits for new DJ equipment and help fund an 18 year over due trip to Jamaica. For me, the garden is all about having fun and having a passion to do something different. We are unquestionably growing things in that space that most people don’t know about. I get asked, “What’s that purple stuff?” in which they are referring to the Kohlrabi. It’s so much fun to educate people on the different produce that most inner city folks know nothing about. The same neighbor who was able to get me this space informed me that once each of the block captains are able to get the lot across the street, she would like for me to start growing there and teach the neighborhood kids a little bit about growing their own food. This would be a true blessing and something that I really look forward to.

“Yes my darlin’, sounds like you got everything under control. Keep up the good work my likkle rasta farmer!” my grandmother says lovingly. A big smile beams across my face and I start to wipe beads of sweat off my forehead.

“Well I have to go Grandma. I love you and thanks for the encouragement.” I quickly get off the phone and finish pulling weeds.

We have a lot of work ahead with more plants flowering and with the summer heat upon us. There are so many unpredictable elements that may arise, but with proper planning and determination, I am positive we will have a ‘fruitful’ season.

Below is the entire inventory of what is currently growing in ‘The Garden of Judah’:

  • Strawberries
  • Jalapeño peppers
  • Aristotle Pepper
  • Green & Yellow bell peppers
  • Serrano peppers
  • Sweet Habanero peppers
  • Scotch Bonnet peppers
  • Mushroom Peppers
  • Cherry Hot peppers
  • Sage
  • Pineapple sage
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Cinnamon Basil
  • Thai Basil
  • Spearmint
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Okra
  • Collards
  • Cucumbers
  • Yellow Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Spring Mix
  • Kohlrabi
  • Tuscan Kale
  • Edamame
  • Cauliflower
  • Blue Podded shelling peas
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tiger Melon
  • Minnesota Midget Melon
  • Ice Box Watermelon
  • Big Beef Tomatoes
  • Big Boy Tomatoes
  • Sweet Million Tomatoes
  • Sun Sugar Tomatoes
  • Chocolate Stripe Tomatoes
  • Mr. Stripy Tomatoes
  • Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes
  • Purple Cherokee Tomatoes
  • White Grapes
  • Potatoes
  • Raspberry bush   
  • Callaloo
  • White Sweet Potato
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One comment

  1. You have a buyer for your callaloo right here! My husband is Jamaican and we would love to cook it up fresh. Seriously. And we’ll take some scotch bonnets too.

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