There i was, sitting by the fire, eating some dinner, when there’s a knock at the door. To my surprise, it’s the neighborhood commissioner there to inform me that there has been a complaint filed about the front yard, that i was negatively changing the character of the neighborhood, that DC inspectors might get involved. Needless to say, i was more than a little put off and confused.
She also went on to say that i can garden in my back yard, and join a local community garden. I’m all for community plots: the catch is that there is a 2-4 YEAR wait list to get a plot, even though there are dozens of them in the D.C. metro. Besides, if i have my own land, why should i take the plot away from someone who lives in apartment or is renting?
Now, i knew that replacing a perfectly normal lawn
with raised beds was going against the grain, so this starts the awareness and dialogue phase of the garden.
Doesn’t this look so much better?
And a yard like this is much better for the environment, according to the EPA. 1 Hour of lawn mowing creates the same pollution as driving 100 miles in a car?! Yikes: to think that you’re breathing those fumes as you push the mower around…
Luckily, there’s the semi annual block potluck next week, so i can hopefully asuage some fears of the yard being neglected and turing into weeds.
Part of the inspiration for this garden project was the idea of building community. I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Roger Swain who is an advocate for strengthening your community through front yard gardens. The gist of it was: Why put the flowers and interesting plants behind fences in the back? Having gardens out front not only adds color and variety to the local landscape, but it gets people out and really talking to each other.
I can attest to this: when putting in the front beds last month, 3 folks from down the block at separate times came and introduced themselves, next thing you know, we were swapping stories of vegetable gardens we used to have, favorite flowers, tips for growing tomatoes. I lived here for nearly 8 months and instantly doubled the number of people who i now know on the block. And i haven’t even planted a single thing yet!
The important thing here is dialogue: let them know my intentions, experience, and commitment not to mention sharing the harvests. I plan on not simply digging in (pun intended…) my heels, but to have a conversation and compromise if need be.