Giving a garden

Over the past decade, Mark Lewis and Tracy Citroni’s “Gift Gardens” have been a major player in the Wodland Heights neighborhood, fostering a sense of community and allowing passers-by to eat fresh vegetables and herbs.

They both say that gardening played a big role in their childhood, and it seemed natural to continue the tradition. Citroni’s father planted a large garden each year, and Louis’s grandfather grew his own “garden.”

“[My grandfather] He is always very supportive of the product and grows well enough for his family and neighbors, ”said Louis. Growing up in a rural area, this is what you do to take care of the community.

Citronie has fond memories of planting, harvesting, and cooking from her family’s garden, which allowed her to plant her own garden throughout her adult life, even though there were few cherry tomatoes and basil in the apartment.

Her passion for gardening also spilled over into her work as a professor of sociology at Marie Washington University.

“Over the past 15 years or so, this family history has begun to contribute to social justice and my commitment as a sociologist, and I have begun to study food justice and examine its educational and activist profiles,” she says. As Mark and I entered our home and began working on the garden, we were both drawn to the idea of ​​a front garden to share with neighbors.

Each year, the couple decides that the garden is for a reason or a seasonal event. The garden’s first commitment was to commemorate a dead neighbor, and this year’s garden was planted on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 in honor of health care and other important staff.

He said the garden was a good start to the conversation and that it was a fun way to meet neighbors and make friends.

“We have these special relationships with our neighbors. Even people were so grateful that they left good notes in our letters,” he said. I think that in conversation with some people, kindness also moves them to give the same nature.

Neighbors and friends Tom Linneman and Farhang Rouhani have lived in Woodland Heights for 14 years.

“We would love to see the garden grow,” says Linman. We always take things from him. Weeks before the outbreak, we were going to see friends we had never seen before, and we cut some flowers out of the garden to bring them along the way.

Tomatoes were one of the most popular items grown in the garden, and eggplant was a failed attempt, Louis.

“[Tomatoes] They are easy to pick, so that was the main base of the garden, but we also planted pumpkins, beans, potatoes, pumpkins, basil, fresh peppers, zucchini, tomatillo. For the most part, these are the kind of things that are relatively easy to grow and can provide for something that is moving.

Citronie liked the conversations the neighbors had with the garden. “They always take me back to the small town where I grew up near Pittsburgh,” she says, “to the sidewalk where neighbors set up tables to share their produce and talk to neighbors and neighbors. .

They give me hope in the face of human despair, renew my faith in human power, nurture each other, build meaningful bonds, and demonstrate unity in the struggle for social justice. I know, I know, it’s just a garden – but really, it includes a lot more.

Since the outbreak began, the couple have created a small library full of leaflets and books in their backyard. The “LL Information Store“People are free to borrow whatever they want, they have the option to donate money to recover.

“It is especially intended for process literature,” says Louis. “Basically 95% of Zinni, like small leaflets, and [it] It has a wide range of topics, from gardening to cycling to sex to activism, some reading and self-help for some children. ”

The LL information store was created as a community property and a way for people to learn things that they could not be exposed to, Lewis said.

“One day we saw a woman picking up two books, and she was just starting to plan, and she was picking up a book to buy your first home,” says Linman. “Such a good time.”

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