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Year 2000
Neighborhood Garden Report


The youth garden work is part of a much larger and more comprehensive effort to create model programs that any neighborhood can follow to move toward sustainability. Our work on our garden program is ongoing.

Troostwood Garden

Troostwood kids spread compost over Troostwood Garden.

down the garden path

From Rockhurst University, we requested and were granted the use of a lot at the corner of Rockhurst Rd. and Paseo. We had Kansas City Community Gardens till a 30 by 45 foot area of the lot for our garden. Then we added six inches of compost paid for by Troostwood Neighborhood. After the compost was spread, an area gardener donated his time and tiller to create raised beds. A Star photographer was serendipitously passing by as we were working.

All Species works cooperatively with the Troostwood Youth program headed up by Erika Wright who lives in the house on the north side of the garden. Erica knows the kids and is an excellent disciplinarian and has been most cooperative. Erica has a disability that doesn’t seem to slow her down any. As a matter of fact it works to her advantage in demonstrating an example to the kids. Erika’s mother (Granny to the kids) also helps drive the kids on field trips, regular watering, weeding and in many other ways. The Wrights and the cooperation of the Troostwood neighborhood are invaluable in making this program a success.

Troostwood kids weeding the garden.
Rockhurst residences are in the background.

weeding

We took the kids on a field trip to John Kaiahua’s gardens in southeast Kansas City. John has a subscription vegetable service, where people subscribe to receive the produce he grows on a weekly basis through the growing season. John showed us around and told us about gardening and his business. He has become an occasional advisor, visiting and loaning us cages and stakes for tomatoes.

Erica and I decided to focus our efforts on the main garden plot for efficiency of time and because some of the kids who could use the program were not ready to have gardens in their yards. We plan to site one or more other small gardens in other parts of Troostwood. One opportunity has opened to site a garden in a neighbor’s yard next to a home with kids who we believe could benefit. Our hope is that the neighbor can give some stability and regularity to our effort beyond our visits. I am most gratified by the organic way this program seems to be growing with community members accepting responsibility that most people wouldn’t bother with.

Here Mrs. Wright places the kids early harvest on a hay bale.

mrs wright

The extremely hot weather coupled with our soil not being up to speed yet limited out put for the commercial aspect of the program although the kids did get enough tomatoes to have a market experience at a Troostwood festival in early September.

We are investigating the propagating native plants in hopes of finding a profitable crop that would have a great ecological learning aspect to it. The Missouri Conservation Department is doing some efforts with native plant propagation and ecological restoration of prairies, savannas, woodlands and glades. They can support us in our efforts with information and occasional visits.

At right, Marty dishes up crookneck squash for snack and the kids ask for seconds. They grew them, after all.

marty

In a project related to the gardening program, in addition to the kids selling tomatoes at the Troostwood festival, we also created cement stones. Thirty five stepping stones were made by that many residents in a community building effort. The stones will be placed in a mandala like design at Troostwood Commons park as a monument to their community. The kids helped with the activity.

The garden is dormant as of this writing. The garden is to be enlarged so we will need to get more compost and fertilizer for the new areas and fertilizer for the rest. We are going to invest in soaker hoses and tools for the kids. I have been attending other Troostwood Youth events as I can to help, so I can understand the community better, and get better acquainted with the kids.


The Tracy Gardens Block - Added Perspective

These are my impressions based on some interactions. Despite the difficulties, this is a block I would consider living on.

I feel more accepted on the block judging by the conversations and greetings I have now. It seems to be growing as people realize I’m here to stay. This block has had its difficulties. The house immediately to the north of the garden is owned by the man accused of the road rage killing at Prospect and Brush Creek Blvd. After he was arrested and the family moved out our in garden litter problem fell to almost zero. He had allowed me to use water from time to time, so I know him. I always felt cautious around him but grateful for the water. There was a lot of activity at his house.

Tracy Gardens gardners having fun showing off their fall green bean harvest.

Tracy Kids

Once when I was pulling up to weed the strawberries there were a number of people in his front yard including a couple of police officers. As I was getting out of the van, a girl ran from the yard toward the garden. She was caught by a woman officer on the sidewalk in front of the garden next to the strawberries. She was being held in a hammer lock and on her knees, the officer over her. I came to weed the strawberries and that’s what I did as I observed what I could. The situation called for calm I thought. I weeded along until I came to where the girl and officer were. The officer and I spoke about gardening in between the girl’s cursing. The girl’s mother was there trying to calm her daughter. From what I could hear, the mother was upset with our neighbor for his family’s influence on her daughter.

On Columbus day there was a brutal drive by murder across the street and a couple of doors south from Tracy Garden. We helped Helen nelson of DREAM Center Partners with a memorial service that started at the DREAM Center at 56th and Tracy and moved down the block to in front of the victims house. In front of the house we formed two concentric circles with people facing each other. With the aid of some Sufi musicians we sang Love, Love, Love, Love. The gospel in one word is love. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Love, Love, Love. People began shaking hands and embracing, blacks and whites, young and old. About 150 people attended.

The Tracy Gardens Neighborhood

Volunteers from Country Club Christian Church pour the front sidewalk at Tracy Gardens while kids watch.

sidewalk

I have been helping Reverand Nelson in working with neighbors to form a neighborhood organization for the Troost Plateau plat which is where the garden is. In partnership with the DREAM Center Partners, All Species has been granted a team of AmeriCorps volunteers for six weeks to work on Permaculture projects in the neighborhood. We will bring in trainers for a week to work with the AmeriCorps people and our own neighborhood volunteers. We hope that the program will plant seeds of a much greated community sustainability effort. In another joint venture with the DREAM Center, we are writing an environmental study guide aimed at GED students. It will contain ways of saving energy, preventing pollution, and living in neighborhood community. Another aspect of that program will hold four educational events in Troost Plateau; a tree give away, a clean up, an oil catch pan give away and a compost bin give away.

Tracy Gardens is dormant for the winter. Two weekends ago, with the aid of a dozen volunteers we created a 45 foot row of leaves over the beds to create compost for the spring.


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