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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Eternal Spring on Broadway Road

It is August in the Southside. The humidity and dust from our annual monsoon season has given us cooler days and stickier nights. Any vegetation that has survived the searing heat of June and July is actually starting to green up and even bloom. My little patch of green I call a lawn, has turned into a kind of emerald hue. The past few weeks I have been throwing liberal amounts of bird seed on my lawn: the birds come, leave their natural gifts and my lawn is fertilized.

This is also the season for the scorpions to make their territorial challenge for the occupation of the house. Some years are worse than others, but I look forward to this species conflict: the scorpion with its millions of years of design evolution versus the Homo sapiens, a relative newcomer whose ability to survive on this planet is still somewhat in doubt. The little arachnids appearing here and there as if they own the place and most of the time being squished in a competition as fast as Olympic ping pong:  my 200-plus pounds of adrenaline drenched girth crashing down on them in a millennium old struggle for territory and survival. And then I hear through my hormone-induced daze the voice of my mate, “Did you get it” and my reply filled with the pride of a hundred thousand years of inbred genetic hunter instincts, “Yes I got him, but it was hit and miss for a while. But he is dead, now.” I have often thought that I should get a tattoo of a scorpion to commemorate this annual competition, but I am pretty much scared of needles.

August is the Southside’s transition month like March is for the rest of the temperate world. August comes in like Hades and goes out like Purgatory.  But even though the heat and humidly has stopped most outside activity, there are still a few hikers climbing South Mountain and a few runners along the canals. These activities are usually confined to the early morning. And, of course, the gardeners are also outside at day break.

The gardeners know that September will be a busy planting time and October will be even busier. So they are preparing their beds, composting old, tired plants and even planting a few crops like basil, beans, corn, dill and few others.

But there are few areas of the Southside that seem to know only one season: Spring. Perhaps in your travels down Broadway on your way to the Salvation Army or the American Legion you may have noticed an urban garden or two. There is one at 19th Street and one at 25th Street. They are overseen by Tigermountain Foundation but maintained and cultivated by the community. Every second and fourth Saturday, about 200 folks from around the Valley come down to these gardens and plant, pull weeds, dig in the soil and share their love for fresh local produce. There is usually food, music and gardening tips. This is especially amazing since it wasn’t that long ago that many folks north of the river did not want to venture into South Phoenix, especially the infamous Broadway Road.  Now, twice a month urbanites from central city and beyond can be seen elbow to elbow pulling weeds with residents who live walking distance of the garden.

It is not just about planting seeds and harvesting vegetables. A few Thursdays ago I had the opportunity to visit one of the classrooms associated with the gardens. The subject was business and entrepreneurship. The students were local folks who worked in the gardens, ages 7 to 70. The plan is to teach these students business practices so that they can turn garden plots into enterprises.  Tigermountain has acquired five more acres to cultivate in the Broadway Corridor. The students who pass the business course will be given a plot in the property to cultivate for their businesses. They will sell their produce and harvest some money.

There will be a grand opening for the new property, 1923 E. Broadway Rd. on August 11 at 8 a.m.

It seems that for the last couple of years I have been trying to get city hall to pay attention to Broadway Road: a titanic battle of concerned citizen vs. political institution–a struggle almost as old as man vs. bug. Meanwhile, a movement of positive energy and eternal spring has taken root right on that same road. Maybe it is time to look at other alternatives to progress in our area.

See you at the garden on August 11th.


By Greg Brownell



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