|"Chives," photo by Rebecca Ratcliffe|
Why do we want a community garden in Cornell? Well, you know, there are the catch phrases: Food security. Sustainable living. Livable communities. Nature deficit disorder. Obesity epidemic. There are even the statistics: Lower crime rates. Increased housing prices. These are the official reasons. They are important to articulate, both for our own awareness and for wider public support.
But really, for me, it’s because chives look like this. Because when we stop to notice that chives look like this, it makes us happier people. Because when we watch these chives sprout up out of the still snowy ground, they taste better on our baked potato. Because when we try just one more time to grow carrots and they never, ever, EVER work, we say silent thanks to those beautiful, unkillable chives for asking so little of us. Because right now I have so many chives in my garden, I wish I had an easy way to share them with others. And because my beets, for unknown reasons, look shrivelled and pathetic and I wish someone would offer to share their bumper crop with me.
Because it's easy to focus on my chives and ignore your beets. But expanding our gardens beyond our meagre backyards into a public space is a leap of faith that is worth taking: to say I’ll trust you to water when it’s your turn if you trust me not steal all of the green beans in the night... That trust makes a neighbourhood a community. And because it doesn’t matter that most of our kids would never dream of eating a chive; when we show them that food comes from somewhere, when we let them dig and touch and taste, when they become personally invested in the fragility and the strength of growing things, it changes them. It changes the future.
I went and got all ideological, didn’t I? No really, it’s because a chive looks like this.