A barren, parched plot littered with the remains of planting trays, garden row cover and old wooden pallets sits undisturbed for three years. Looming over it are two large greenhouses, one mostly intact. The other has part of its ribs showing and the shredded plastic cover flails like an angry specter roused from the neglect of a once thriving landscape. Through the exposed ribs I can see raised beds spilling over and irrigation lines tangled amidst weeds that had proliferated then died from lack of water. I try to see only the potential of the land, but my first thought is, “This is an immense amount of work”. Tiana Suazo and I, Daniel Martinez, began restoring the TCEDC Community Garden on May 22, 2018.
It was clear that my first task was to clean up. Tiana and I began by piling the debris and cutting the weeds in the surrounding area. This took us four hard days, but the place was transformed. I could now imagine the plot filled with rows of fresh vegetables tended by enthusiastic young gardeners. The greenhouse ghost still flapped menacingly but I knew we needed more hands for that project.
On June 11, 2018, the youth interns arrived. There were four in total, ranging from 15 to 19 years in age. The first project we tackled together was the removal of the old greenhouse skin. After it was off, we began disassembling the raised beds. The wood was rotted out, so Tiana and I wrote a letter asking for donations to several local lumber yards. We got enough wood donated from Olguin’s Saw Mill to rebuild one side of the greenhouse beds, but will need more to finish. I have faith that more will come.