Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Zoo Pooh at Jones Valley Teaching Farm

"Here are our raised beds" said the volunteer at the Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham, Alabama. Downtown high rises are just blocks away. The three acre site is surrounded by high density housing, a highway overpass, and what appears to be the frontier of the suburbs. 



 For a few dollars a season, a family can rent one of the 8'X4'plots and work it themselves. Most of beds were still full of winter weeds. I noticed leftovers, some greens gone to seed and a shriveled tomato plant. Pitiful as they were, they were still a portent of the mini-gardens' potential.

One young couple weeded their box, a baby propped up watching from his stroller.





The volunteer pinched her nose. The garden staff had just fertilized with pooh from the Birmingham zoo.  I couldn't smell it, but it reminded me of the time we took our four year old to cattle country in northern Colorado. She got out of the car and complained that it smelled like elephants.


 At the farther end of the farm were longer  beds lined with cinder blocks. The volunteer pointed out that they were already planted with spring lettuce, onions, and spinach for farmers' markets.

The blocks were effective but not pretty. If  marigolds were planted in the holes they would be!




These, however, were small works of art, constructed by a local stone worker. I'd love to see them mid-summer full of flowers.








I think this interesting structure was the chicken house.  



The farm has fruit trees, too. The fruit and produce are used for cooking classes for neighborhood families  in a site just a block away. 

What used to be a derelict lot has been turned into a friendly safe haven. There are even shady benches and a picnic table. 

As a former city-dweller, I would have loved a community garden like this one, elephant pooh and all.









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