North Pole Columnar Apples. Photo by Paul Mayer
BY KIMBERLY MAYER
Not since the 60’s has this country seen so many demonstrations. Now I am in my sixties and standing in a Demonstration Garden. What’s a Demonstration Garden, you ask? Well it’s the Master Gardeners’ way of inviting you into their space to see what grows well in a particular area and to share their gardening practices.
This place, I have decided, is my personal act of resistance. Against all the violence, hatred and bigotry in the world, this is my personal act of resistance because it is a working model. I am planting myself here as much as possible.
The first scent to hit me is fish fertilizer, and I rather like it. I’ve got dirt under my fingernails before I remember to wear my gloves, and I don’t mind that either.
Tomatoes are growing under plastic tarps for heat. In the temperate summers of the Pacific Northwest, tomatoes often need a little help. Patty pan squash, zucchini, peppers, and Bush beans aplenty. Little eggplants, dangling like amethyst earrings.
A new crop of chard is coming along, whereas my first crop is still in the process of coming up at home. Potatoes, garlic, kale. Herbs of all description. Tomatio, looking like pretty little Japanese lanterns. Grape vines gone berserk.
“And peas that are beginning to say goodnight,” as one Master Gardener put it.
Arugula that wintered-over, a skinnier leafed variety than what we are growing at home, with a more pungent peppery taste. Rhubarb, which could be grown outside the fence, as deer don’t care for it.
It’s all about food here—indeed the only blossoms are flowering food plants, artichokes, squash, and such. Despite the small plot, The Master Gardener Demonstration Garden on San Juan Island donates over 1,000 lbs. of produce annually to the Friday Harbor Food Bank, and no wonder. As we stood in the garden, Master Gardeners showed up to work carrying excess produce from their home gardens to contribute as well. Everything is organic, weighed and delivered to the Food Bank, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, just steps away.
I hopped over there to have a look and found a sweet little store, clean as can be, meticulously organized and stocked, where everything is free—all it asks of customers is island residency. Fresh produce, of course. Eggs, meat, milk, canned goods, pasta, dried beans, soups, frozen chickens, frozen sausage, and ice cream treats for kids while shopping. Some signs say take one item per shelf, or two items per shelf. Large families, of course, get extra.
Like so many things on island, the Friday Harbor Food Bank is run by volunteers. But then, this is an island where drivers in cars wave as they pass. Where there are more people walking or running or biking than driving. Where there are no traffic lights. Where the wildlife is harmless and the people are kind. Where the town of Friday Harbor looks like Main Street, Disneyland.
It isn’t fair, I get to live here.
The more I think about it, the island itself may be my personal act of resistance as well.
14 responses to “Peace Where We Find It”
How I wish more of the world could be kind to each other and that there was always food to feed our children. You are indeed lucky.
I am/ we are. But remember wherever there is land or a lot, pots or planters, sun and water, there is an opportunity to grow food. For me, it started with herbs and grew from there.
I totally agree and add that San Juan Island is a throw back to a time when random acts of kindness were the norm, not the exception; where if you have car trouble, a stranger will stop to offer aid and you’re not afraid to accept it; where the sight of a flock of trumpeter swans or a single silver fox can take your breath away.
Not a day goes by that my breath isn’t taken away countless times.
When I come here I was looking for a place where the forest meets the sea, where I could kayak out my front door and ride my horse out the back…
where there was no traffic and peace everywhere…..I found it.
I am loving these comments. You are writing your own posts and it’s beautiful.
Always great to read your material, Kim! Hope your book is going well. The meeting with Hillary was inspirational but I’m scared as heck of Trump…
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We all are (scared of Trump). Really, everyone I know. The weight of the world rides on this election, doesn’t it?
I feel like I can see and smell your garden, thank you for the uplifting and beautiful writing. I unfortunately also feel fearful about both candidates and their competency as leaders.
Thanks, Lynn. I appreciate that. As for the election, you know what to do. One of them is a madman.
I first thought your gardeners act of resistance might lead to how healthy plants subdue diseased weeds (Trump and his supporters). Our great and powerful sun and Rain Gods would then work their magic and we’d all live in a San Juan Island like world of peace and good will.
Here’s wishing to make it so!
Yup, growing our own food is the strongest act of resistance, methinks. I am not doing that this year, though. But neither do I feel complacent.
I don’t understand why it isn’t fair that you get to live there? Seems fair to me. If your husband can take a photo of apples that makes my mouth water, you deserve to live there!
True, Katie. We’ve both lived all over the map, haven’t we? And moving is no easy task. I guess I do deserve to live here.