Reflections on an urban farm

Posted: July 17, 2013 in Urban farming

City people are every bit as nosy as their iconic small town counterparts. It may be harder to know all the business of our neighbors, as there are far more neighbors, but city people certainly do try! And every neighborhood, every true neighborhood, has at least one, maybe two busybodies that endeavor to keep everyone else in the know.

We live at a crossroads. Interestingly, the two streets we straddle possess remarkably different personas. The north-south street, on which we officially, according to the Post Office, reside, has one flavor of off-beat, while the east-west street, has another. The east-west street houses college students; a career woman with a personable but wacky, on-again, off-again boyfriend; a young and large outgoing friendly family; a very likeable gal with cool tattoos and a pack of mini dogs,; a young, urban, Slow Food couple with chickens; the House of 1000 dogs; Recycling Gilbert; and Most Hated Ass Neighbors. The two houses at the end of the street change residents frequently.  The neat green house always has a sign that reads “Beware of Dogs” and there is always some sort of mini dog in residence, behind the 4 foot fence.

This street is often quiet, aside from when a dog is walked down the street. The din at the House of 1000 dogs is impressive. People do not spend too much time outside, save for Travis, a woodworker who spends days in his driveway playing with power tools and Recycling Gilbert, who rides his three wheel bike around collecting recyclables. He likes to give us stuff. I always try to foist produce on him, but as of yet, he has not accepted. Generally, on this street, people come home, jump from their cars or bikes, and head into their houses. At one time, the street was a bit more lively, but gradually, everyone retreated into their house and aside from the occasional wave and short chat at the ice cream truck, there is not much interaction.

The north-south street, patrolled by Pony Tail Dan, the resident gossip, houses Porch Monkey Ed, sworn enemy of Pony Tail Dan; Abby, the chihuahua, and her owner; Blanca and crew, who do a kick ass house of horrors every Halloween; the family in the purple house; Isaac and Company; Lonny and Emily, a Great Pyrenees, who occasionally wanders, scaring the bejeezus out of the gal with the tattoos and the mini dogs; their neighbors, an Asian couple who speak to no one and fight often in their front yard; an international ‘salesman’ who travels (we’re convinced he’s James Bond) and his Venezuelan wife; Evelyn and her husband, who have lived in the neighborhood almost as long as Pony Tail Dan; Marley, the golden retriever, and his family; the sisters who own houses adjacent to each other at the end of the block; the drummer; Josh, the guitar player and his somewhat disreputable house guests; the little gal with the pit bull and her man; our nice neighbors, an elderly couple with two grown sons and endless grandchildren; and the Spanish speaking only crew with whom we converse frequently about garden topics. This year that crew planted a garden in our nice neighbor’s backyard. She is very excited about her tomatoes.

The north-south street is an entirely different pot of fish. Altercations between Pony Tail Dan and Porch Monkey Ed are always quite the show. No one seems entirely clear on what the issue is or was, but everyone is aware that an issue exists. And will be dealt with by yelling and rude gestures. Lonny’s front lawn party starts about 3PM on Friday and aside from occasional breaks in the AM, goes on until Sunday evening. All are welcome. Much of the street stops by to see Lonny and Emily at some point over the weekend.  There are weekly cacti sales most Saturdays at Blanca’s. Music drifts over from Josh’s house. He’s quite good and we like hearing the tunes.  The Spanish language only crew down the block are frequently out working in their yard. When they run out of things to do there, they come and take care of our nice neighbor’s yard. Since the north-south street leads to the train station, the farmer’s market, and the Circle, there is a good deal of foot traffic. Most of the folk on this street apparently lack air conditioning, because as soon as the days get REALLY hot, the porches along the street get crowded. Street Fair weekend guarantees the kids at Marley’s house will be selling avocados and doing skate tricks. It is frequently a lively street and there is almost always someone out and about, at all hours. Of course, since there appears to be someone basically living on Josh’s front porch, this isn’t too difficult, but still. Gatherings on Ed’s porch or backyard go on late into the summer evenings.

It is a good neighborhood. The type of neighborhood where an urban microfarm fits. And no one, well, almost no one, looks askance at us.

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