Ah, the best laid plans . . .
And then I went to Rashid's Wheat Street Gardens for the first time since January, the first time since seeds had been planted, since food had been harvested, since the now-getting-common 90-degree days started beating down on his currently-4-acre inner-city Garden of Eden.
I wanted to hand-deliver the magazine issue, not yet on newsstands, in which my article features him. And I asked Bob to meet me there, Bob who is chief of staff for a county commissioner and has more than 20 years of municipal zoning and planning experience (much of which has proven critical to the success of the newest city in the United States' start-up); Bob who has helped legalize a residentially-based organic farm, helped approve the building of the first school for refugees in the nation, and ensured that every police car in my city has automated emergency defibrillators (which has already saved at least one life); Bob who fell down the hole of urban agriculture two years ago (having never planted even a radish before then) and has barely come up for air as he has helped build or rejuvenate no less than ten vegetable gardens; and Bob who used to be on the verge of a stress-induced heart attack and now finds comfort in the increasing acreage over which he serves as steward (and uses as scalable pilot examples for others to follow), even launching a blog named Dunwoody Farmer Bob .
Bob came, and then Bob and Rashid met.
I know what that means. My friends Angela and Rebecca and Tracy and Ashley know what that means. I even think Bob knows what that means . But I don't know if Rashid, one of the pre-eminent urban farming educators and experts in the world (and the vice president of Georgia Organic's board of directors) who surely meets many powerful people in his travels and during the time he generously spends hosting visitors, truly knows how monumental it was what happened this past innocent Friday.
Overwhelmed a bit at this realization and knowing there was no way I could communicate it, I walked this former piece of squalor now planted with squash, onions, garlic, healing herbs and more, noting the aesthetic beauty (a characteristic of all of Rashid and Eugene's urban farms ) of the farm's details:
* And yes, the seemingly endless rows of neatly planted raised beds take your breath away;
* The plowed fields planted in rows and lined with fruit trees and vines make you ache for what you know is possible on all the wasted land around our metro area, our country, our world;
* The golden light that fills the greenhouse romances your soul, and even the sun's striations on the spot where a homeless person has set up camp across the street, next to barbed wire, broken concrete, and graffiti, illuminates the beauty and potential of every human condition;
* And the sheer joy that emanates from Colleen, the woman hired to stimulate sales of this abundant fresh produce to restaurants, makes you almost want to open your own restaurant just so you can anticipate her visit every week with picture-perfect fistfuls of carrots and a cooler of greens.
But the tiny detail to which my eyes kept returning? The flowers planted beneath every single tree that lines the edge of this property, an action that took time that you would think was needed elsewhere. Yet their symbolism was not lost on me. Impatiens. Everywhere impatiens. Impatience. An urban farm that broke ground just this past December and is now a national model of sustainable organic practices. Replicable ideas about compost, irrigation, cultivation, and post-harvesting handling captured on a cell-phone camera by a man who couldn't care less about all this not that long ago. Two men who don't like to waste time who are standing still talking. And a world that was shifting right under my feet, a shift I could feel, a shift that was knocking me off balance.
And then, really truly right then, Eugene (shown here harvesting carrots with Colleen), his calming essence even stronger than the first time I met him , handed me a flat of tomatoes and another of eggplants, all of which were stressed. "They need love," he told me. But if they make it, they will bear fruits named Yellow Perfection and Black Beauty.
I drove back on the highway through the city, the skyscrapers surrounding me, cars whizzing by, the sickly plants in my trunk. And I knew what I needed to do. I needed to add balance. To the world. To the community garden, where our impending expansion is throwing our percentage of beds dedicated to the food pantry out of whack. To my life, where I had interpreted my readiness for the next stage as time to leave the community garden.
I made the decision to designate my community garden bed as a permanent food pantry bed. I planted Eugene's tomatoes and eggplants in them--Yellow Perfection, Black Beauty--knowing this means I need to go there several times a week more than I was planning. That I need to trust that I am meant to be there still. And I named the bed the only name that made sense, the only name that would hold feet firm while the cosmic shift in the world's energy swirls around me, now that two impatient men have met.
I named it Patience.
And I shall wait and see what happens next.