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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Welcome to the Southside, Kate

Kate Gallego 2

This year’s pecan harvest is going well. If you have been following my battle with the dreaded aphids that attach the groves every year, you know my first line of defense is to help the trees defend themselves.  At The Farm we do not use insecticide on our trees. We gave them extra water and fed them the best organic compost money can buy. We gave them some zinc because that is lacking in their soil. We also gave the soils a treat by adding humic acid from Global Organics in Goodyear, Arizona . The folks at Global Organics taught me that it is soil first, last and always. They showed me soil needs healthy vibrant microprobes.  We are just learning now that our bodies need lots of microbes, too; but that’s old news for the folks at Global Organics.

With happy microbes, good tree food and lots of water, the pecan trees are on the mend. Also, HMS Landscaping our neighbor from across the street came over and gave them a much-needed trimming. Yes, the trees were able to beat back some on the aphid infestation. True, they had a little help from lace wings imported from Tucson, but for the first time in years the aphids are on the run.  And, as a kind of bonus for having helped them out, we have a great pecan harvest.

At The Farm we do not harvest the pecans for our own use. The pecans are a bounty we share with the community. Every year the groves are open to the public to come and pick all the pecans they want. No machines or organized work gangs, thank you.  But families come every year to get the pecans. The trees yield a variety of nuts: round, long, thin shelled, some tastier than others, so they say. Gramma Gramma knows all the trees and is willing to tell you which are which.

What does this look like: old folks (Gramma Gramma is 93), young folks (I saw a couple on a Harley Davidson), dreamers (sitting by a small bag of pecans just being in the groves) industrious moms (trying to get those kids to pick enough pecans for a couple of pies (where did Billy go?) and just folks (eating a few, walking a little, putting a few in their pockets, talking a little, eating a few more). The birds help out a little, and what’s left we will mulch back into the soil so the microbes can have a feast, as well.

The harvesters come in all the colors and languages that make up the Southside. Some of these folks have history with the groves that not only predates our stewardship but that of the previous owner and then some. The trees came in with the earliest efforts of SRP to give water back to this land (1930s), which had been irrigated by the Hohokam for a thousand years before any Europeans appeared here. The trees were here before the Southside was annexed into Phoenix (1960). They were here before the Southside became part of the District System (1982). And now they have the chance to witness our first white woman become the councilperson from District 8.

Kate Gallego will also be our first Millennial Generation (born after 1980) representative. This is a good thing, I predict, because this will give her a little edge in navigating the multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic wonderland that is the Southside – Millennials typically do not bring a lot of personal prejudice to the discussion. Also, she was brought up in an ethnically diverse part of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Albuquerque is almost as diverse as the Southside with the exception that Albuquerque has about a 3 percent African American population vs. the Southside’s 14 per cent (approximately).

Her path to the Southside traveled through Harvard, 9-11, a Mexican/Columbian boyfriend who struggled to be the first in his family to reach the Ivy League and then enlisted in the Marine Corps, served two tours of duty in Iraq, returned to Harvard and graduated with her. They both came to Arizona to work with the struggling Arizona Democratic Party and to meet the boyfriend’s parents.

No doubt she had some concerns (she is White, Jewish and a possible future daughter-in-law), but she was confident that her background had prepared her for this moment. Everything was going as well as could be expected until she shared that she was a vegetarian. To her surprise one of the supportive family members told her not to worry because they have chicken as well.   She now eats meat, but still not pork.

In the future I hope the whole Southside looks forward to a new beginning with Councilperson Gallego. Like my trees, we are in need of a deeper revitalization: the very fabric of our community needs nourishment and care. We need help at a very basic level to reclaim our identity as a great place to live. We need new ideas about growth that will allow for productive development that enhances our existing communities without destroying them. We need protection as well as the basic necessities that will allow our self-determination. This will guarantee great harvests for future generations, and quiet, safe and well-maintained neighborhoods, now.  Welcome to the Southside, Kate. Mi barrio es tu barrio.





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