You know, my friends… we humans are so full of ourselves… that it often seems as if we could do without mother nature completely. You walk through a mall, surrounded by man made scenery, enlightened by soft electric lighting. A sky above that has been specially designed to produce an equilibrium of infinity and offer a hint of plastic blue skies twenty four hours a day, regardless of what the weather may be like ‘outside’. And so a person living in this twenty-first century, could be excused for thinking that we really have no need for mother earth, except as a platform on which to build our own very stylized environment. And if ever it gets too crowded here on Earth, we could always build more of the same on the moon.
But all the same, there are those… even city dwellers, who enjoy a rapport with the earth itself. While others are satisfied to believe that tomatoes, lettuce and carrots evolve themselves from a little bang to a plastic bag somewhere in the depths of the city where foreign workers reside… not to speak of the evolution of steaks and hamburgers… there are those who cultivate a patch of earth near their home, and actually grow vegetables that can decorate the dining room table, and be consumed as healthy food. Come to think of it, that doesn’t happen so much in the city. Maybe in the outlying suburbs. But for the most part, I suppose, it happens in the country, where you can see open fields here and there, and bits of ground that are uncovered and un-sculptured… real dirt that turns into mud when it rains.
I’m staying in a small town these days… less than an hour’s drive from Jerusalem, and even here, most of the grounds between the buildings are sculptured and designed, and nary a patch of plain old earth on which to grow cauliflowers or radishes. Of course, there are beautiful gardens, and even a forest close to the edge of town… you can take your dogs or cats for a walk through the trees. And it’s very pleasant. But I haven’t seen any signs of local agriculture. Which led me to thoughts of the allotments that are growing ever more popular in the big city.
To tell the truth, I’ve never had the strength or the energy to take part in such activity. But after reading the splendid blog of Claire over at Promenade Plantings (http://promenadeplantings.com/), I’ve been meaning for some time to share with her the fact that we have a Jerusalem version of her beloved allotment, only about fifteen minutes walking distance from my old home. It’s a sort of common agricultural stretch of land, in which private citizens can request and receive a patch of earth, and grow all kinds of produce, from beautiful flowers to vegetables… even trees. There are seasons when the activities are more intense, but almost all through the year, you can see a few people busy on the land, doing what people do when they love the ground.
There are a couple of sheds, and a nice shaded pergola, as well as two tents. I’ve got no idea of what goes on in those tents… Since I’m a book worm myself, and make my home burying into large concentrations of paper, sometimes bound, and occasionally clasped together… and scrolls… and lately, spend a large portion of my waking hours staring at a computer monitor, I’ve always been shy about approaching these city farmers, and asking them about their lives and pleasures, thinking they might not have much patience for the likes of me. But I do gaze at their vegetable plots, and admire their industry. And I do like to mention, under my moustache, most inaudibly, ‘you know, I have a friend over in England who does this sort of thing… and she shares recipes with me’.
All the pictures in this post were taken at the urban agricultural experiment close to my home, except for the potted plant… which was sitting on my table as I wrote this post. I had so many pictures of the place, that choosing these, took almost as long as writing the post… and I do wish I could show them all.