A couple of months ago I floated the idea a community Garden on the two bare parcels of land pictured above. The land is owned by Inland Empire Paper and there is a history of the land being used for growing pumpkins before the bridge construction turned the corner lot into a flattened post construction parking lot and before the pumpkin farmer died about four years ago. So the concept was to get community members to work together to grow food on the land and give the majority of the food to Second Harvest food bank.
The plans lay dormant until a couple of weeks ago when I got a call from a local artist who lives nearby the pieces of land. He has been experimenting with cultivating wildflowers on his property and he proposed turning the corner lot into a beautiful wildflower meadow. It's really a vision for a making a piece of public art to be on display for all 30,000 cars a day that speed by on Argonne. The larger plot of land to the east would still be used for growing food in the new concept. This is all speculative at this point and we're still working out the details with the Paper Mill but in light of recent developments I wanted to make a few observations and make an appeal for help. First, two observations.
My understanding of community development work is that as relationships are built and visions are shared amongst a people and possibilities are lifted up - if you hang in there with it long enough, stuff starts to happen. As a friend of mine says, when we pay attention to the world together and develop the skills of intentional listening "the pennies start to drop." When my artist friend called, in the back of my mind I said, "Ahh, the pennies are dropping." My limited perspectives and visions found a conversation partner and now it appears something even more wonderful is taking shape.
I'm learning that the resources for renewal and re-vitalization in a community are among the people in the community. They are often hidden and obscured but they are there nonetheless. For example, Tates' Honey farm is just on the other side of Argonne from these pieces of land. Jerry sells honey at the Millwood Farmers' Market. He's noticed recently that the bees he keeps on the river keep going to the east and he couldn't figure out where they were going. When the artist talked to him last week it occurred to both of them that the bees were going to the experimental wildflower patch in the artists front yard. They got talking and one idea is to keep some bees on the new wildflower meadow and market it as a special "Millwood Wildflower Honey". I love it!
Now, the appeal for help. The two parcels of land have working water meters but they need some work on backflow valves, etc. to get them ready for the projects. We also need some help with materials and planning for the irrigation delivery systems. Is there anyone out there who has some experience with irrigation systems and is willing to donate time, materials or both to get things up and running? If so email me at the link to the right. The Paper Mill has generously expressed willingness to pay for the water.
We're looking for worker bees who want to be a part of the project. Based on my conversations with the mill, they will permit people to participate in the work in a similar way to their permitting process for use of their forest lands. Access to the property will be limted to those permitted to participate. If you are interested please email me.