Thinking about Green Space Differently

June 20, 2013

Author: Neighborhood Farm Initiative

Category: General News Stories from the Garden

The headline of an article in the New York Times caught my attention this week – an op-ed titled Greedy Gardeners. Before actually reading the piece, I felt a little offended, and told my gardening companion so as we biked up to the Mamie D. Lee Community Garden last Saturday morning to check on the seedlings in my plot. 

My companion encouraged me to actually read the piece, of course, and after doing so, I felt differently. The author comments on a utilitarian view of nature and how often people focus on the direct and obvious benefits that nature can provide to humans (such as food). 
She highlights the value of wildflowers and native plant species which attract pollinating bees and provide habitats for other wildlife which are part of the same ecosystems as plants which provide food for humans. The article encouraged me to think about green space differently – both to see the value of native flowers and trees – but also to think about nature’s inherent value beyond the utilitarian. Plants feed insects and birds, too, but also nurture “our heads and hearts,” the author says. In response, I took the concrete step of buying a couple flowers to plant along the edges of my plot last Saturday.

While the community garden at which the Neighborhood Farm Initiative offers its Garden Education Program classes this summer is intentionally dedicated as a space to learn about and grow food for human consumption, I am happy to also see flowers in and around the garden. The bees which provide essential pollination for the plants to produce fruit can also be fed by other plants nearby.
Photo taken from
featuring the workday in which the planters outside the garden were built by volunteers. 

It is also a treat that the garden is close to some wooded areas, so that going there feels a little more integrated into nature, even while the metro line is a few hundred meters away.

In future classes, we will be talking more about insect life – pollinators and pests – and I’m eager to think more about how an ecosystem works together to thrive. 

Jenn Svetlik is grateful to be a member of NFI’s Garden Education Program for the 2013 season. She’ll be reflecting on the experience throughout the summer.
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