20 June 2010

Our Community Garden

Many months ago I mentioned to some of our retired neighbors that they should take advantage of an empty space in the park at the end of our street to start a community garden. They finally hooked a hose up to the faucet there and started planting decorative and fruit-bearing trees pretty randomly around the garden space. When they mentioned that they would soon need planting soil if they wanted to grow vegetables, we devised a composting scheme.

So, we set up a compost area and then put these two bins near it. Kitchen waste gets dumped in the blue bin and then covered by some scoops of dried leaves from the red bin. Once a day I empty the blue bin into the compost area shown below. This photo represents approximately 5 weeks worth of composting.

The sticks you see on top of the compost are dead vines from my maracuya (passion fruit) plant that I put as a first layer to aerate the mix. On top goes the kitchen waste which is then covered with a layer of dry leaves.

The neighbors have done a nice job recruiting other neighbors to recycle their kitchen waste so now there are 7 families participating. Our goal is for ten families to participate so that we can learn how much waste a typical family collects per day, how often they dump their waste and how much that adds up to in all (measured in bins per day). We also have to learn how many dried leaves we can get the housing development gardeners (they prune people’s yards and trees and collect fallen leaves) to take to our garden as they can’t imagine why we would want such "garbage" and so they don’t collaborate very easily. After a few months we hope to have a better idea how it will work so we can get more families involved.

The garden looks like this right now, which is a huge improvement over the gravel-covered barren land that characterizes the rest of the park as you can see in the foreground.


kattyscoggin said...

Felicitaciones!! Creo que esta es una de las más inspiradoras iniciativas para iniciar una relacion diferente con nuestros vecinos.
Este tipo de actividades no son nada comunes en Guayaquil y menos en barrios como este.

Espero que sea un buen ejemplo para otras urbanizaciones!!

osito said...

This is awesome, man! This is not only a beautifying project for the neighborhood, but a project that seeks to build capacity in the neighbours to take charge of their own spiritual, intellectual and material progress.

I would love to follow this story and learn from what you are learning. Something along the lines of paragraph 29 of the Ridvan message...

"...while social action may involve the provision of goods and services in some form, its primary concern must be to build capacity within a given population to participate in creating a better world."

cbarrera said...

It's such a great idea. You have a 'park' to make it into a garden. Why do bilders leave these areas, called 'parks' empty, and neighbors just love them.
What you are doing makes more sense: fuit trees, plants and flowers. Not pebbles and cement.
Hope neighbors do help and more and more people.
As osito quoted: building capacity to create a better world.
Beautiful idea.

Jordan said...

Is there a "before collaboration" picture of that same area? I hope you continue to document the process so we can see the transformative power of a common vision... and perhaps some shots of the people involved!

Jordan said...

Is there a "before collaboration" picture of that same area? I hope you continue to document the transformative power of a common vision! And perhaps some pictures of the people involved!

Vahid said...

I am curious about how this initiative will help enhance a sense of community/commonality and unity of action within the condo. A small yet great endeavor indeed.

Justin said...

@katty - muchas gracias, no conozco otras iniciativas de esta naturaleza en un barrio de Guayaquil, quiza somos los pioneros!
@osito - i am glad that you included that quote. i have thought about getting the children and junior youth that are in groups in this neighborhood involved in the project, which would give it the character that you describe. that will take some time, though because we need to learn how to make it work smoothly first and the biggest difficulty we have so far is just getting enough leaves and sticks because the gardeners won't cooperate very much.
@carlos - i like how you put it, building capacity for a better world, that is exactly the idea and i hope it works that way.
@jordan - there is no before shot, but the foreground in the last picture gives you a good idea of what the area looked like.
@vahid - yes, i have the same curiosity! i hope that it contributes to that sense of unity of action and continues to grow. we shall see!