Garden community: How the conversion of a vacant lot helped me to put down roots – Low Calorie Diets Tips

Cynthia loved the house: an old turquoise cottage with yellow trim in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. But it was the vacant lot next door that caught my eye. It was a package deal.

Growing food is a rite of passage in rural East Texas, where I grew up. Now I had a household to feed. And because I tend to be eager, I went big.

Why we wrote this

Working in a garden means attracting onlookers from the neighborhood. And as the plants grow, so do the connections to the community.

I built raised beds: six 9ft by 6ft beds. Then a bed 25 feet square, plus two more, each 15 feet by 20 feet. It took six truckloads of dirt to fill it.

Because I worked outside, I was available to neighbors. Roy stopped to tell me about the couple who owned our home. I met The Praline Lady, who sells homemade sweets from her motorized wheelchair. Athelgra sang with The Dixie Cups, whose big hit was “Chapel of Love” in 1964. Will told me that after Katrina he slept in a cottage that now has a new home. He had nowhere else to go – nowhere dry.

Our kitchen is stocked with bags full of products to share. But the garden isn’t just about the food. Without our garden, I would never have understood my new community, my new family in New Orleans.

New Orleans

Cynthia loved the house: an old turquoise cottage with yellow trim in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. But it was the vacant lot next door that caught my eye. The seller told us it wasn’t an either/or deal. Our option was to buy both properties or move on.

We bought both. We had eaten a lot of potatoes to save for the biggest purchase of our lives. It was the cheapest house for sale in our neighborhood.

“You’re all going to need a bigger lawnmower,” joked our real estate agent.

Why we wrote this

Working in a garden means attracting onlookers from the neighborhood. And as the plants grow, so do the connections to the community.

We also needed a wheelbarrow and a shovel.

The property was overgrown with tall grass and bushes. It was full of bits of trash, urban tumbleweed blown about by the Mississippi wind.

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