On Saturday March 19th, a group of five YAYA volunteers travelled south to help out our friends in Fellsmere with their community garden. This garden plot happens to be the same one I helped clear on my first visit to Fellsmere, and my first YAYA event roughly four years ago, which is now collectively run by Fellsmere community members. The Fellsmere Community Garden Project is divided into 2 plots of land for both individual gardening and a shared space to be used by participants.
That day our group was supposed to help clear several of the garden beds, but the tiller was missing a nut and bolt holding one of the tires on. We made the best of it with some temporary solutions – a stick at one point that actually held the tire on longer than we thought – before they were able to find a replacement bolt later in the day. We were still able to till a few beds by hand, and created two new raised beds layered with pinecones and needles to grow blueberries in. Pines increase the acidity of the soil, which blueberries tend to like!
While waiting for a real solution for the tiller to arrive, we took an extended lunch break and helped ourselves to the tostadas that were generously offered us. We are always fed well when we visit Fellsmere. While eating and relaxing, Yolanda told us about the difficulties of organizing people who want to be involved with the garden, in the way the city expects them to, and how it would be nice if they were given a little more freedom to run it themselves. I am inclined to agree seeing how the community has successfully managed the gardens so long. Many of the garden members are farm workers, or former farm workers, who want to grow fresh produce for themselves, their families, and their community. Many truly love gardening and the opportunity to grow their own crops on their own terms. This is why, among several other reason, many community gardens are an important resource for farm working communities.
I hope to continue to help out with the Fellsmere Community Garden as long as continue to invite YAYA to help. I always look forward to the knowledge and the experiences, and the food, that will be shared with me. I hope that as new people join YAYA and visit the Fellsmere Community garden, that it has a similar effect on them.