If New York didn't have its parks, tree-lined streets and community gardens, it would be a completely different place to live.
Rows upon rows of brownstones will suddenly give way to a fenced in block of wildflowers, carefully cultivated by the residents of the neighborhood. On site are tiny man made ponds, wisteria, vegetable gardens, stepping stones, bright orange poppies and garden gnomes. Everyone contributes to a composting pile that provides rich soil to new planting beds.
You pay yearly dues that go toward supplies. In the meantime, neighbors meet each other in the open air. They sit in lawn chairs and chat while children run around, giggling.
Sometimes in New York you can go on for years without meeting your neighbors. You might only hear the loud squawking of their television or the thud of footsteps overhead.
People often feel too vulnerable to meet their neighbors, since you never know what you might find - the 6'-6" linebacker in clogs above you would always have the advantage. Or perhaps it's the woman with the small ferocious dog below you, the family with little kids or the older couple in need of hearing aids.
In the neutral territory of a community garden, people let down their guard. You share planting tips, the garden hose, equipment. Gardeners are notorious for creating something out of nothing, so a generous spirit comes easily. One plant becomes three. A harvest rewards all with abundance.
I'll have to revisit the community garden near me soon. It was tough to take good photos with so much going on.
Related posts: The Cycle of Decay and Trees Do Grow in Brooklyn