I have come to understand the meaning of land and its ownership through my participation in an urban community garden. It is located at the edge of the city, in an "edgy" neighborhood and is run by marginalized folks who regularly live "on the edge."
I care as deeply for this shared piece of land as I do the land I have title for. Before work, at 6 am, I visit to weed, water, mulch and revel in the sun as it drys the dew and awakens the bees. I have the place to myself and even though I do not own it, it owns me. I welcome each new bud and tiny vegetable as if it were my own child. I mourn each bug bite and hate when Fall drops in to stay and I have to put my little plot to bed for the winter.
Part of the reason I love this land so much is the people who share it with me. When I started with it, I knew no one. But now the African-American man who has grown collards there for 60 years shares his farming secrets with me. The man from Romania greets me as an old friend and the Hungarians water my plot when I am on vacation. The old Italian man who was in a camp during the war advises me on wine-making, grapes and apple diseases.
I think that each time I visit, the land has a lesson to share, whether it is from nature or from my gardening neighbors. I discover that a tiny plot in a so-called "bad" neigborhood has the power to make me happy all day, to feel like I have won the lottery every day and to know that the God that I usually suspect is not there IS there in that moment. The red of the Romas, the yellow of the peppers and the purple of the eggplants color my garden and my life.
I may just borrow it for the season but it stays with me all year.
More information about text formats