An article regarding the Boulevarden ran in the Herald today. The article is at the bottom of this post if you are interested in reading it. The coolest part of the article is that many who had read about the Boulevarden came by to see it...and take home some veggies/herbs. It was exciting as it was a steady stream of visitors who shared stories, recipes, gardening tips and encouragement.
Our neighbor Marlene told us last night that while she was over tying up the tomatoes in the Boulevarden (I KNOW!...is that not soooo nice?! she just saw they needed tying up and so came and did it, nice) a mother and her three girls stopped by, walked through the garden, sat on the bench, and she so chatted with them about the garden. I think that is so wonderful. I think I may have mentioned that we have great neighbors!
Yesterday I put out a basket with some veggies and herbs with a sign encouraging people to help themselves. This seemed to encourage neighbors who had walked by many times with a friendly hello, but not stopped by to, well...stop by. I met Jolene and James, a young couple who walk by the garden at least once a day, we have said hi many times, but had not introduced ourselves or chatted...yesterday they stopped to read the sign in the basket. They then asked me what the difference was between the yellow and green Zucchini...I said with an apologetic smile and a shrug, "hmmm....ummm...uh...the colour?...you know I don't know...I don't think I have noticed a different taste...let me know if you notice any differences". Soooooo....I am wondering has anyone else noticed the difference between the zukes? I was thinking after they left that maybe the yellow ones are more tender...? Anyway Jolene, James and I then discussed the herbs...they have never cooked with them, so we picked some, smelt them, talked about different things we have had the herbs in (like sage with chicken, oregano in spaghetti). They were a wonderful young couple and live just down the avenue from us.
We met Stephanie, the director of the Old Man River Watershed Council, she stopped by on her bike. We had a nice chat, she lives just down the avenue and took home a Yellow Tomato and Zuke.
Barb also stopped by, she lives on the westside but had learned about the Boulevarden in the paper, and so drove over to have a look. She is in the Red Hat Society and had just come from a meeting so she still had her red hat 'stuff' on. She gave us advice regarding squash...she said that you can trellis up squash...I would never have thought of that...but it would be totally cool and would take up less horizontal space. She also took home some tomatoes, Zucchini and Basil.
Sandra and Shorty stopped by, every night they ride their bicycles around the neighborhood, they usually turn up North on 14th street...but one day last week they missed their turn and ended up on our block and saw the Boulevarden...today when we were out they stopped by to chat with us.
Most of the comments and conversations have been very positive. A few interesting comments that came up during different conversations are:
Do we have permission from the city? This is a common question - we explain that the 'guerrilla' part of the project is just doing it, with out asking - taking 'unused' city property and turning it into a community garden. Although I admit when we came home last night, there was a bunch of spray paint on the grass next door as well as on the sidewalk right in front of the garden...and we did get a little paranoid that maybe the city was going to 'dig it up'...but it was just because our neighbors, Marlene and Richard, are having their boulevard lawn removed by the city for FREE! The city will remove their grass as it has silted in over the years. Marlene and Richard are replacing the old lawn with a bunch of garden as well as new sod...soooo if you want to do a Boulevarden...annnnd you want the city to take the sod off fer free, giv'em a call - maybe your boulevard will qualify!
The other thing that seems to surprise many people is that no one has vandalized the garden (I kept knocking on my head every time someone said that). I am not sure why...although we have never had anything else vandalized at our house/yard. Also I don't know if it makes a difference...but when ever young people walk by we exchange hellos and smiles....and I have told them help themselves to a tomato next time they walk by...I have met some cool kids - we get quite a few kids who come by the Boulevarden as 7 Ave is pretty busy - leads down to Henderson Lake.
People also wondered how we stop people from just coming and taking all of the garden bounty...we don't and they haven't...
Anyway a wonderful day in the garden...it will be a tough one to top...
Guerrilla gardeners attack city boulevard
By CAROLINE BOSCHMAN
Aug 8, 2007, 23:01
Loralee and Paul Edwards sure gave their neighbours something to talk about this summer.
They decided to do some guerrilla gardening, a term used to describe gardening on someone else’s land without permission.
Guerrilla gardening has been around for a while and the concept seems to be catching on in cities around the world, as a quick Internet search will reveal. Typically, activists take over a piece of land they believe is abandoned, underused or neglected and plant vegetables or flowers or both. Some work under cover of darkness while others more openly engage their community in the process.
The Edwards chose the city-owned boulevard, the strip of grass between the sidewalk and roadway, in front of their home on 7 Avenue South. They had the grass dug out, a truckload of loam brought in and, after plenty of elbow grease, a garden with tomatoes, herbs, zucchini, squashes and sunflowers has arisen out of the dirt. Their cats, Fury and Harley, dive into the catmint. They’ve added a couple of trellises, a deck chair and lettering on rocks serves to identify plants in the garden. People are welcome to help themselves to the bounty.
“The idea was to share it with the community,” Loralee said. “We encourage people to come in and take a tomato. I think it turned out to be even bigger than we thought.”
The idea was born out of a chat she had with three friends about guerrilla gardening.
“I just loved the idea,” she said. “We had moved the deck to the front and noticed how much more we interacted with our neighbours.”
They took things even farther out front with the boulevarden, a name coined by a friend. Although the Edwards supplied most of the plants, neighbours also contributed. A summer solstice party brought more neighbours around for a chat. When the lavender was ready, Loralee made fresh lavender lemonade and offered it free to people walking by.
“It just tasted wonderful but no one would try it,” she laughed.
The Edwards said they have used no chemicals in the garden and, despite the costs involved in time and dollars, they have no regrets.
“It was not a significant cost. I’d have paid twice as much to get rid of the grass,” Paul said. “We both really like it. It’s a hobby, more than a hobby, maybe a passion.”
“It never ever feels like a chore,” Loralee said.
Whether the city approves or not, the Edwards don’t know.
“We didn’t ask. That’s the guerrilla part of it,” she said. “I did research it. There are other cities that encourage boulevard planting and I followed their rules. I tried to be as respectful as I could.”
The Edwards are pleased to report people have also been respectful of the garden, no one has trod on any plants and the garden objects haven’t been touched.
As an artist, Loralee said she considers the garden her summer art project — an activist art installation piece. She’s kept track of progress in the boulevarden in a blog — http://lethbridgegg.blogspot.com.
Loralee hopes spaces like the boulevarden will be included in the city’s greenmap. The Lethbridge Greenmap is a new project to create a green guide for the city. Greenmaps include sites like gardens, pedestrian zones, parks, eco-tourist destinations, wildlife habitats, bike lanes, infrastructure and toxic hotspots.
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