And back to Kalamazoo: Wall St


On arriving I was lucky enough to take over a vegetable plot in the Wall St Community Garden. At two blocks from where I’m living it’s near enough to feel like a back garden to get out to when you’ve been at the screen all day and I inherited sage, kale and raspberries. Starting in July was a bit late to do much planting, but it feels like I just got to do the nice bit which was the picking and eating.

The industrialization of agriculture and the concern for where your food came from was parallel to the growing ecological consciousness in England in the seventies that I grew up with. Nearby farms cattle dying in massive numbers and Chernobyl were two examples mentioned as wakeup calls. And the remnants of wartime gardening (be it allotments or victory gardens) were a lingering reference too. A lot of people have become very involved again since the economic recession in 2008, but it seems to be gaining strength still. It’s not only about the food you cultivate……


The Wall Street community has been pioneered by Mitzi DeLuca for thirty odd years, restoring the old wooden celery planters houses and since 2000 a community garden. A recent project is the native plant meadow which was in full splendour at the height of this summer. The following photographs are of a group session putting down compost to keep enlarging that space. Monthly group efforts help to tackle the big jobs that would be impossible individually (always followed by a picnic).


The transformation of this block into a street which is lovingly tended to from corner to corner is a great example of urban regeneration. The vision of the city filling up with orchards and vegetable gardens when spaces open up where old buildings disappear (like Detroit but on a different scale) is a heartwarming idea.


Since community work is often slow to bear fruit, it’s great to witness Wall St now when Lara and Paul have also started a native plant garden at the corner of Rose St where a house was taken down and Sally has an orchard at the other end of Wall St and Park. Both endeavours are ecologically and community oriented, with lots of planting of native species for insects and bees and the orchard is for people to enjoy on site.

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