Place for Potatoes
[Cross-posted at La Vida Locavore.]
A Normandy vet who trusts me handed over care to a little rose and mum garden at the Episcopal church I allegedly belong to. I was absurdly touched by it, I’d just shown up for three hours for whatever grounds labor was around and never expected stewardship for what I consider to be the most holy spot on the grounds. When I went to services going early was the best part, secluded in charming blooming garden, you smoke’n spit’n take in life, I don’t know, I just felt like I belonged there.
Next week is a 40 bag—or 40 cubic feet—run of chicken manure, something I’ve done so many times over the years for my own roses and gardens it’s like making coffee, 40 bags is just right on the cart and the truck for a chicken shit trek to Home Depot. Clip, clean, till in. Then clean up and rebuild the flower beds, fixing their soils and watering systems so I can get busy in March.
The gardens are on a down slope that ends in poor lot drainage, nothing is ever going to be built in this wondrously sunny valley spot of 20 square yards. “Can I plant out here, pumpkins or something?” I asked, gesturing at the scrubby weeds. “Oh yes,” was the reply. Finally, a chance to grow real food again, it’s been far, far too long since a full belly was the better result than some prissy flower from my labors.
For many years I’ve wanted a pumpkin garden at church for the kids, I think there are many good science lessons in the mystery of seeds for the taking, and I liked the idea of kids growing up always getting their Halloween pumpkins from church, but with the chance finally here in 2009 it’s not happening, our people need food.
It’s been understandably stated that economy, war and health care get top priority in these fun American times, that’s all fine and well, but we are never going to get the fuck all anywhere if our kids and people are hungry, trust me on this, progression isn’t happening with malnutrition and a mind constantly dogged with consciousness you’re on the Other American Side, you didn’t make it and may not get out of this little sojourn on the journey.
Furthermore, I’m simply appalled and sickened at the blithely ignored tectonic scope of the problem. Food banks are over-run with donations way down. Schools stay open over long breaks for the sole purpose of school breakfast and lunch programs. We’re crushing and shaming millions of our kids with hunger pains and realties they don’t understand.
When one care barely pay the most basic of bills and keep a car running—dream on about vacations and steak and private schools, please—food always gets pushed way down on the list to spend on. When I hear stories about what a lot of our Seniors go through and eat—if they can—because their drug bills are literally killing them I wonder why so many are proud at the commission of USS George Bush last week. I understand and have served, okay, but JDAM’s don’t feed Seniors or alleviate the bewilderment of children.
Why potatoes? Sheesh, for their work and time there is hardly more carbohydrate for the buck, portable and storable, tasty and varied, widely accepted and known by folks, no hungry soul ever turns down a sack of spuds, or food banks, either.
It’s very important to me to demonstrate how much food can be grown in such a seemingly small space behind a church hall. I look around every week at all this wondrous Valley space and soils completely un-used, a terrible waste when so many Americans are hungry, it’s ridiculous that we as a people have so lost the knowledge that a little labor on some land can go a helluva long way to keeping stomachs full. Most people see weeds on a corner lot sidewalk space the homeowner doesn’t care about, I see 90 ears of corn. Just watch how many pounds of potatoes I can get out of 20 square yards, yeah.
Talk is one thing, a sore back and real accomplishment quite another. I shall certainly let y’all know how things go, I labor there every Wednesday now. It’s just something I know like I breathe I have to do, and don’t ever look at me for virtuous wise behavior in a happy life, I don’t think so. Who the hell gives a shit about me anyway, what about our kids out there with no breakfast today? What about Seniors rationing their cans of tuna? What about the agony and torture of a Mother watching her life with hungry children? For the holy Jesus sakes of the infinite universe, what about them?