Updated: Mar 28
LEAD’s Community Garden went to sleep for the most part during the Pandemic.
We didn’t gather volunteers, no Garden Parties, not a weekly visit from the Boys and Girls Club to plant and tend the Salsa section or push the old fashion plow to ready the soil for planting. The milkweed, the Spider wort, wild and Egypt walking onions, the batches of oregano and sage flourished. A selection of natives nestled around the plantings we strived to keep alive that would later be transplanted into the Rain Garden we established at the Peoria Tribal Housing Authority.
During the last three seasons the garden had not been alone. The large pecan trees out front had produced well and the squirrels had been busy planting them. Just before the first frost last autumn would cause the leaves to fall, Lucas Freeman, our AmeriCorps VISTA and I took our blue masking tape and marked the pecan trees. The sizes are distinct. 3 seasons of blue tagged saplings have made our dormant garden look dressed and ready for spring.
And what does this spring bring? The City crew is coming with their sharpshooter shovels to dig up these pecan saplings and plant them in the parks and around town to TREE YOU. There is great benefit in trees, people have always understood this. Even this week with that surprise hail storm, for many out in the open, not seeing or hearing thunder and lightning many may have thought to find shelter beneath the trees’ canopy. We asked that the City consider thinking of the many loved ones we lost during the pandemic to COVID or from other causes. These trees began their lives as many friends and relatives were losing theirs.
Perhaps you will think now of how you can personally honor and remember our dear ones and please include these souls who survived through the pandemic, only to be now lost suddenly or by a host of conditions. Please consider planting your own tree of remembrance. The shade will comfort your children’s children and bring blessings to people who never had the chance, the opportunity to know the love you had shared with your lost one.
Don’t be shy. Don’t hold back. If you had the big love shared by the great extended family, why not plant a food forest? Shade trees can produce food, like the pecans or walnuts, smaller fruit trees and even the shrubs and bushes will allow you to graze for years to come, slowing down long enough to remember those who had inspired your plantings. Involve your whole family in planning and make this special place a memory from the first decisions taken while studying the seed catalogs on what species to choose, to the days you gather to lay out your collective vision to then actual shovels in the ground, planting day.
You will be part of a new movement. Green tributes. Begin with monuments to the gentle giant lost this week and a former mayor of Picher could kick this tradition off. Like that old song the Brownies sang: Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold… “preserve the current trees we have and tend the new ones since half of them will die within two years and it takes about 50 years to grow full trees!”
We gain shade that will cool our neighborhoods while we de-stress and improve our mental health, we can strengthen our immune systems and gain many other benefits while we honor our loved ones and provide a healthier future for those who follow.
Our pecan tree nursery’s days are numbered, but the Community Garden will welcome you soon, to work the soil in the garden beds, reset the Bee Hotel, paint the corner for June Taylor’s returning milkweed, allow the rain barrels to fill. The blueberry bushes arrived for the south fence line and the strawberry plants for the north.
Spring brings us hope and gives us purpose. Dirt work doesn’t seem like work to me. But it does try to distract us from the other work we must do, and that is to SAVE THIS TOWN. So get your postcards in to FERC because the next assignment will take a little more effort. We need you to write your one page flood stories. Yes, I know each of your experiences could fill a book. But FERC needs bite-size pieces. Go ahead and start. We will furnish the stamps and dirt work distractions if you need either.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim