Pickles, flowers, water fairies and a smattering of permaculture principals…

Most times when I paint it’s a whole lot of fun coming up with the painting titles…. like “In Her Mind, She’s Dancing”. The title came first–then I painted it—and then, I sold it—my first official fine-art sale!

The same thing happens when I write….I’ll title something then go on and on about it. Titles are different than names—which I tend to have an occasional memory block on—I remember the way things look, and can draw fairly accurately, but can’t remember the human-appointed name that’s been given.
But darn it, I really wanted to say something about pickles and flowers in my last—last months’ chat and then I forgot. And so now, I will.

It’s been a scramble at the Community Gardens to get our Art-Farm plots planted, get the workshop space settled, meet a few chomping critters, tend to their voracious needs and encourage them to spare a few leaves (Some of the broccoli survived, but, the basil is gone, gone, gone….although, we have more teeny, tiny basil seedlings being nurtured in flats).

And keeping up with the ever crazy-growing quack-grass….let me just say—Aaaarrrghhh– after spending two hours pulling out those intelligently designed wide, spreading, claw-like, root systems from our Medicine garden plot. And, another…..Aaaaaarrrrghhhhh…for my lower lumbar!

Now after a long month of long days, I have time to sit down and write, and, I can tell you that the pickles and the flowers are growing strong. Something about the soil on this farm, makes cucumbers grow like crazy! We have Smart Pickles, Northern Pickling Cucumbers, and Straight Eights how’s that for a few names? Please don’t ask me for the latin names, I’ll be sticking to Northern Michigan/Mid-western farm speak….

Our biggest challenge is trying to grow plants without a consistant water source. This is a big boo-boo on the Permaculture design principal checklist….before any real work of planting, a proper site anaylsis and water catchement system needed to be in place. In hindsight, our sensible wish is catching water in a couple of cisterns off the BIG, big barn roofs nearby, routing it down in hoses— and we will respectfully, propose this to Rolling Centuries Farm and the Rec Authority as plans continue for the gardens/farm improvement and rennovations.

What we do have and are grateful for is Sheriff Fossil and his work crew. These guys weekly tend to our Community Garden needs, by driving the Sheriff’s pick-up truck which is pulling a tank on wheels to the nearby creek, filling it and then delivering it to 100 gallon barrels which line the edges of our garden. I really appreciate the effort all of this takes, for the sake of our shared Community Garden space!

As it is, and has been for the past few years at this Community Garden, we work as a community and within a group system and so decisions and action sometimes come about slowly—Unfortunately, this happens lot’s slower than the needs and life-cycle of a plant in our short Northern Michigan growing season.

Even there is a permie lesson—-Thoughtful and protracted observation—-taking time to think about our relationship to each other and the earth and our needs and the earth’s needs—-and so we put another permaculture principal into action—The problem is the solution….we are the problem, we are the solution….

It’s then that we begin our Watering Fairy ritual of dipping our watering cans in the barrels and hiking, flitting, and dancing, to and fro, to our sweet, little thirsty plants.

Now’s the time for me to name some of our Water Fairies, who like Sheriff Fossil and his crew, weekly, arrive at the gardens and tend to our growing, plant families.

Kendra and McKenna are true Water fairies, as well as their mom Nancy. Kendra is the first, flitting, Art-Farm fairy that inspires me to write these words. She hits the garden gates and gets to work with a watering can, and does it in a gleeful and Tinkerbell-like way.

The Dent family, Christiane, Calvin and Lily faithfully visit our gardens every weekend and occaisionally there is a stone and stick sculpture, or is it a fairy ring that pops up in a corner near the Pickle Teepee or the Medicine garden?

Bailey and Allison, students at Central Grade Montessori–and their families stop by on Wednesday evenings to water and have joined our Art-Farm Ambassador program, which meets on Tuesday afternoons.

Jacob is working with us as one of the Art-farm Apprentices and helped create the sunflower signs that are marking the long drive back to the gardens, planted some of the garden beds, helped determine the farming ants invasion, and has done a fair share of watering.

All of us Water Fairies had lots of fun a few weeks back learning about an old garden tool that our neighbor gardener, Steve and his family, found which pre-dates (we imagine) a hoe and rake. We believe that Leonardo DaVinci designed this farming wonder and have named it: Leonardo. It looks like it came out of the 17th century, but it really tears through the soil and weeds!

It’s going to be in the high 80’s today, time to get to watering—


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