The urge to garden is back for me and perhaps for you though I am behind many for getting with the effort to have much to show. I have been thinking a lot about LEAD's Community Garden. The Miami Boys and Girls Club kids are scheduled to come back next week for our fourth garden season. Their enthusiasm is contagious, so if you see us all out there, go ahead and stop and watch and join the action. As the weather permits, Thursday afternoons they will be there.
So far the onion bed is set and the keyhole garden has begun. We have a couple of bales of wheat straw and the potato box Gary Sherard built for us. Last week the A & M Engineering team was at our property, DEQ's contractors for the Yard Remediation work funded by EPA to test and remove high levels of lead in yard soil. Until the results are in on their findings, the children will be gardening in our raised beds and starting seeds for the bigger garden.
I have been reading about how other communities deal with gardening and are concerned about possible lead and cadmium in their soils. According to a Minneapolis guide sheet, it is important to realize that the principal route of exposure to contamination is usually not the uptake and accumulation of contaminants IN the vegetables that you are growing, rather it is the SOIL and DUST that you contact while gardening and that sticks to the outside of the plants.
To reduce the risk of exposure wash and peel root crop, and wash and remove outer leaves or bottoms of leafy green crops and to teach young children not to eat any vegetable until it is washed and remind anyone with contact with the garden to wash their hands before meals or sampling that little tomato.
They recommend reducing children’s exposure by covering bare soil with mulch or sod and locate your garden away from building foundations, especially if the building is old enough to have had lead-based paint used on it, even if you don't see paint chips. And in this season of "Oh let's make raised beds," resist using railroad ties or other chemically treated lumber because they contain arsenic.
Not all gardens are for vegetables. Reflecting back on ways our youth have honored people who they had lost by death, and others they never knew, it was by planting trees and flowers that would live on. The redbud in the bed in front of Miami High School was planted to remember those lost in the Oklahoma City bombing and the yellow iris were for individuals students had lost. There was a bed at Will Rogers, too so many years ago planted for lost ones. We'll be planting bulbs this year at the LEAD office with some of them for Tina Hesse, Iva Young and Nola Bryant. If you are cleaning out your flowerbeds this year, save us some bulbs. They come up each year, just as the ones June Taylor gave us last year, up now in their new home.
Divide up your bulbs and share with your friends and those who you know would enjoy new beauty, even if you have not checked that soil for lead, it could be good for beauty and for reflecting on those who gave you such precious memories. Since the world does seem pretty broken right now, I am motivated by those who are the fixers, who are finding the issues in their communities and looking for answers. Cyndi Ray was a fixer and we'll certainly be planting for her, lost too soon but also thinking back to her high school friend lost long before her potential was ever realized.
We might not all be fixers, but we can garden, flowers and vegetables and remember to wash our hands when we are done.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim