A Great Day at the Garden

Via on Sep 21, 2011

Shmal at the garden

New beginnings and a beautiful day at the garden!

McRorie Community Garden

Shmal and I had a wonderful day at the McRorie Community Garden yesterday. Let me tell you how all of this began. A few years ago, I was riding my bike in Gainesville, looking for a good place to get on a long trail called the Hawthorne Trail. The Hawthorne Trail is known by most bikers and hikers here in Gainesville. It goes from town down south across Paynes Prairie to a little town called Hawthorne. The prairie is an amazing place. There are wild horses from the days of the Spanish explorers. You can also see a herd of buffalo. There are huge alligators and all sorts of birds and wildlife.

McRorie Sign

As I looked for the trailhead, I passed a beautiful community garden. There was a sign that said “Plots available”, so I called the number and I wound up with my own patch in the garden! The next time I dropped by to plant, I met Shmal.

Shmal the day we met

I introduced myself and he said “Nice meeting you, Michael. My name is Sh’mal.” I asked him to repeat his name. He said “Sh’mal”. I looked at him quizzically and said “I’m sorry, what?” He said, “My name’s Bob Ellenberg, but I’m called Shmal. The name’s a combination of the Jewish prayer, the Sh’ma and Allah – it’s a tribute to the fact that I respect the spirituality of both religions. Sh’mal”.

Sh’mal was on his way to Seattle, having lived here in Gainesville for years and years. He wanted to be closer to his grandchild and be with his son, daughter-in-law and grandchild as his grandchild grew up.

Sh’mal said he was waiting for some people to drop by so he could give them his plot. They never showed up so Sh’mal wound up giving his plot to me. That was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted these years to this day.

Since I love photography and am a software developer, I started taking photos, meeting people and started a blog about the garden. I called it “Zoobird” and this is what it looked like after a few months.

Eventually, I converted it to a social network and now it looks like this: “Zoobird – Dangerously Organic!” It’s been around several years while I’ve met so many people in the community and encouraged them to join and write.

Mike at the garden

So, back to the story at hand. Since it’s the beginning of autumn and we just had a full moon, Sh’mal, who just moved back to Gainesville and I decided to plant our patch yesterday. Now, we share the patch he passed to me years ago!

Mesclun Mix

We stopped by the feed and seed store and picked up some collard and broccoli sprouts and some mesclun mix. Weeds grow here like…weeds! So, there’s always cleaning up to do. We made some beds for the sprouts and seeds. Then we got down to the planting.

Before we knew it, we were done. Success!

lemongrass

We looked around, proud of ourselves, and saw a huge lemongrass plant. Have you ever had lemongrass tea? This is how your little tea bag starts out.

Rosemary

How about rosemary, that tasty herb? Here’s a hearty rosemary plant in our garden. Imagine how good it smells!

flowers

The garden is full of flowers. They attract butterflies. Every so often, a crop of huge sunflowers comes up. Ahhhh, so serene!

This is easily my favorite photo of all time. I took it a couple of years ago in the garden. It took about a dozen tries and a lot of stealth to get it. Like it? I love it. These are my treasures. I love everything about the garden: the planting, the harvesting, the people I meet, all the smells and sights, but I especially love the photos that I can savor anywhere I go, even when I’m far from the garden.

butterfly2

Here’s another one I love. See the orange flower and the rosemary bush behind the butterfly?

daikon radishes

So, I can’t go on here forever because I saved some daikon radish seeds from years back just as Shmal was leaving and we’re going to get together today and try to sprout them! Here’s one of the original sets of photos I took, years ago when I started community gardening and growing both Zoobird and my patch. I hope this inspires you to get involved or start your own community garden. Please let me know what you think! And, feel free to join Zoobird and have some fun in the meantime. Chow! /Michael

 

 

 

About Michael Levin

Michael loves sharing what he's learned about organic lifestyles like living off the grid and bicycle commuting. He calls it "lifestyle entrepreneurship". He's into organic gardening, mindful living, and realizes that we only have this life and each other. His favorite quote is "The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both." (James A. Michener)

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2 Responses to “A Great Day at the Garden”

  1. Brent Binder drbinder says:

    Awesome post, Michael. Just linked to Elephant Health & Wellness on Facebook!

  2. Thanks! We had a big rain today. The mesclun seeds, broccoli and collard sprouts are so happy.

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