As a fellow online writer—who happens to be called Elizabeth Licata—says, “There’s no drama like community garden drama.”
We’ve written a lot about community gardens here, including stories on gardens under threat by utility companies, gardens embroiled in internal politics (fueled by alcohol), and community gardens that have been shut down or abandoned.
And now here’s a garden that has arrived at a place where its former manager has threatened to set himself on fire unless he regains control of the space. This happened in Queens, NY., and I first heard of it through a story in the Daily Meal (it was originally in the Wall Street Journal). In brief, officials in Queens suspect the Evergreen Community Garden, run largely by Korean immigrants, of selling its produce illegally, and of shutting out other community members; the city has taken the garden (which is on city property), and turned it over to an official community garden network.
Stories like this make me happy that I have never entered the community gardening realm. I considered it at one time, but I could see the pitfalls. In fact, I can envision the short list of reasons I would never make it in any kind of communal gardening operation:
- Weeds. I have a very lackadaisical attitude toward weeding. I like to wait until they’re big enough to pull easily, and so I can be sure they are a weed, and not the thing I planted there on purpose. I actually like some weeds, like phytolacca (pokeweed). This causes problems with neighboring gardeners, who (rightly) point out that this increases the likelihood of the weeds spreading.
- Incompetence. This enterprise would probably require being able to plant successfully from seed.
- Aesthetics. I have never seen a community garden I felt was nearly as attractive as a private ornamental garden. This would bother me.
- Attitude. I’m a friendly person, but I have noticed that ornamental and food growers often have much less in common than you might think.
- Everything else mentioned in this post. The threats from higher authorities! The fights between gardeners! The drama!
I try not to do drama.