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Meet Travis and Lester. I certainly won’t forget meeting them earlier this week.
There’s so much l liked about these two guys, it’s hard to know what to write.
But let me start by telling you that it’s a long way from the suburbs to the Wake County neighborhood where Travis and Lester grew up. And I’m not talking about miles.
Our paths NEVER would have crossed if not for my friend Cindy who works for a great local organization, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.
This week Cindy took cookbook author, Linda Watson, and me on a tour.
There’s a lot going on this corner—first, a working organic produce farm called T&L (for Travis and Lester). They sell on Saturdays in the parking lot across from the Kroger that recently shut down on MLK . SE Raleigh is a food desert.
T&L Farm also provides produce to some of downtown’s hippest restaurants with a 30 minute (no fooling) turn around time. Their okra looks AWESOME BTW, and their organic compost is to die for.
There’s also a community garden where families can adopt a row for free.
There’s an education garden for kids.
And there are big dreams:
Lester dreams of a meditation garden on the property.
Travis dreams of collards like his grandma made, and a new favorite–kale soup
Both want to see their children eat good food and know the joys of growing it.
Both want to see their community come together around a garden and make something good for the body and mind.
Both men are in their 30s, graduates of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s urban ag program, AND never believed that they would would be working in agriculture and loving it at this point in their lives.
But gardens change us, don’t they.
Cindy from the Food Shuttle tells me there IS enough food in the world; it’s just a problem of access.
Travis and Lester are working hard for access their little part of the world. Cross your fingers for them.
When my friend Linda told me her Formosa lillies (Lilium formosanum) survived last week’s big storm–I grabbed my little camera and rushed over the next afternoon. These tall, fragrant white flowers are not to be missed. And Linda has a slew of them weaving in and out of her mixed bed of a front yard in Raliegh. (Grass is too boring for her–so she has none)
The old Art-History major in me thinks they are the same flowers in the lovely Sargent painting–Carnation, Lily, Rose. Linda started with 7 plants. She now has dozens. Her propagation method couldn’t be simpler–In the fall she collects the seed and sprinkles it around the yard. (She also shares and gave me a handful last year)
I may have gone to see the lilies–but I was also very taken with her giant Chinese Abelia (Abelia chinensis). Another stunning August bloomer–it is also fragrant, makes a great cut flower, and attracts butterflies by the flock.
The butterfly magnet in my yard right now is Clethra alnifolia, or Sweet Pepper Bush. Another fragrant shrub that saves its best for August, this hardy shrub languished my garden until I found in some moisture and a little morning sun. After I planted it at the base of on of the drainage/runoff pipes, it lived up to its potential and became a star.
All three of these plants have great things going for them–fragrance, blooms, butterflies–
And they’re at their best at the toughest time of our year–August. That makes them stars in my book.
Final thoughts about Linda’s garden:
Linda’s passion is spreading the word about healthy, fugal eating (check her out at www.cookforgood.com ) and we counted no less than 15 edible plants growing on suburban third of an acre. It’s a good inventory to make when you’re strolling your yard sometime. How much can you grow for the table?
Some plants in her garden bloom and flourish despite never making it into the ground. Shows us how important it is to pick the right spot…then tough plants (like these camellias) and fend for themselves.
And don’t forget the mantra about visiting other gardens and talking to other gardeners–you will learn a ton.