Monday, September 26, 2016

The Plot: A Creative Community Garden in Newton

On Sunday I was invited by the SOFIA Collective to speak to some artist/gardeners at fall equinox celebration at The Plot community sharing garden in Surrey. My friend Sandra picked me up at the Scott Road Skytrain Station. After an arduous trip with a train packed with royal watchers, of course I had to use the loo. So I traversed the wilderness to the local big box store and discovered a really lovely patch of goldenrod. These "forgotten" undeveloped liminal spaces are becoming increasingly important for wildlife and particularly bees. As Lincoln Best (@entomo_b) pointed out on my Instagram feed (@beespeaker), sometimes these are the only spaces left to support bees.

So we picked up Matt and drove to Newton, the location of The Plot. What a great idea for a garden!

 I love the design of this space. The medicine wheel acts as a spiritual and social centre, grounding the food and flower plots.

Here are the remnants of the fall equinox ceremony.

It's a bonus that the site is right next to a community center.

These diagrams explain the significance of the medicine wheel that they chose to incorporate into the design.

Matt and Sandra are my buddies from Austria, currently living in Surrey. We have had many adventures together, but haven't seen each other for awhile. There should be a word for that warm glow you get from re-uniting with friends you haven't seen for a long time--something like freundefreude.

What a great idea! This is similar to an idea I had about giving seniors pots of perennial kale--but much better. It's practical and cute and would suit people who live a nomadic lifestyle. I love the broccoli sticking out the side. This would be awesome with mushrooms!

These natural benches are very cool, and safe for children to crawl up on and fly off of. (Well, that's what I'd do.)

These syrphid flies have so much personality.

 Nothing beats clear signage in a garden! I like the chalkboard style.

It was lovely to see a species of bumblebee other than those eastern bb's escaped from greenhouses. I think this might be Bombus mixtus, the mixed bumblebee. Ach, what a dreary name for such a sweet bee.

So this Brassica was the most popular plant with bees in the garden the day I visited. It was taken from the beach and planted here by a boy who gardens at The Plot. It tastes like mustard on steroids and I believe it's wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum). It's a very cool plant, but comes with an invasive warning. The leaves, flowers and pods could be used in restaurants and home cooking. Some folks pickle the seed pods. The Punjabi ladies at Moberly made me curry with domestic radish pods that was absolutely delish.

Lovely sunlit setae on those back legs!

Weeds can be fantastic when used as "a controlled substance" for bees.

When it comes to honeybees, these folks are doing it right. Two hives in a garden where many folks can have hands on experience is more sustainable than having multiple hives in many single family urban dwellings. Plus, locking them up to protect the girls from bears and dumb humans is a good idea.

Matt calls this enclosure "the food court".

I pointed out that most of the bumblebees in the garden were imported Bombus impatiens, the eastern bumblebee. This one looks like she's missing some hair from her thorax. It can get rubbed off as they enter and exit their nests. There was talk of a bumblebee housing project using garden pots. I must say that after talking to Dr. Ralph Carter, I think the wooden nests in trees idea is likely more resilient. But hey, give both kinds of nests a shot and see what happens.

This is how you've got to grow corn to get kernals. It's wind-pollinated and needs to be within spittin' distance of its kin.

This dude is a natural green thumb and he gifted me one of his cantaloupes, which really touched my heart. I must send him one of my books. He was also really good at spotting syprhid flies. Someone's already taught him a few things. Mentorship is a strong part of this garden's model.

And this is where you'll find me in a sharing garden. I love cape gooseberries!

True to their word, there is a free box as you enter the garden. Anyone is free to take these treasures home and make good use of them.

Many thanks for the invite! It was lovely to meet all of you and I hope your garden continues to thrive.

All the Best,
Madame Beespeaker

P. S. Here is a list of sources including info on the artists I mentioned in my talk.

Also, check out The Wild Radish Song. What can I say? I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.

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