On Tuesday, I visited the Sufi Community Park on North Springer Street. I had a brief tour with Lynn Waters, contributor for the Southern Illinois Sustainability Guide (I just got my first copy, what a fun little store of information!) and local “foodie.” I say that because, like so many of the hardworking individuals who are committed to building a local food system in Southern Illinois, Lynn is somewhat title-less. Besides working with and for the improvement of Sufi Park and various other engagements of the Sufi community here in Carbondale, Lynn works closely with Chuck Paprocki, manager of Dayempur Farm, a local organic farm I have yet to tour (I’m hoping that with Lynn’s help, that will soon change :) To see a fun, short video of the goings-on at Dayempur Farm, as well as further explanation of the importances of buying local, click here). What’s more, lucky Lynn lives quite near Sufi Park. I envy her. Temporarily, I am stuck in Concrete-ville, where the only plants near me are the Christmas cactus and modest, potted herb garden that I perch on the balcony of my C’dale apartment.
some dirt on my knees and palms, pull apart the reaching, over-flowing green tendrils and learn of such things. I’m so tempted to register for a plot of my own and share it with my greenest friend. I’m hesitant though. For one, I worry that I am a bit late in the game, that my early summer plantings would yield little. I suppose that a novice gardener needs to start small, and modestly. Maybe even with somewhat low expectations. These little qualms are most likely just excuses for not getting my hands dirty, not branching out and trying something new, or, what I’m most hesitant to admit, producing a little weedy and scraggly plant patch that mimics that long-ago accidental watermelon, a patch that will surely be put to shame by the bountiful and beautiful patches I saw when I visited. None of this is to say, however, or imply, that gardening at Sufi Park is an intimidating thing for a first-timer. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. At Sufi Park, it’s easy to garden if you’re inexperienced. Fellow gardeners are friendly and interact with each other frequently. Advice and smiles are easily shared. Sufi Park also includes a small utility shed, complete with various gardening tools like hoes and shovels, a lawnmower, tomato cages, trellises, and garden-hoses. If you show up with seeds or seedlings and work clothes, the rest will be taken care of.
Despite the appeal of the garden plots in Sufi Park, I think that my gardening and planting skills still need further honing before I start off on my own. I suppose for now I will have to settle with the odd-jobs I get to do when I visit local farmers. In a little while, I will be moving just outside of Carbondale, to a lovely home with a…. YARD! Front and back. It’s funny how excited I am about this. But hey, for a college kid, living with the opportunity to feel grass under your toes means you are moving up in the world. Well, at least that’s how I feel, but then again, I store much value in grass. I’ve already planted the bug in my future roommates’ ears of a butternut squash here, some cilantro there, spinach, and perhaps, if I am feeling nostalgic and a little-bit brave, some sweet-corn and a watermelon or two.