West Coconut Grove, smack dab in the middle of Miami, is known as some of the lushest land in the whole city. Native West Coconut Grove residents talk about how back in the day, you could walk through the neighborhood simply snacking on the fruit from the many fruit trees scattered throughout the neighborhood. From coconuts to mangos to avocados to limes to papayas to Spanish limes (genips)…you name it, it grew here. Even today, the neighborhood attracts people from surrounding neighborhoods seeking to benefit from the abundant harvest. It’s fitting that our West Coconut Grove neighborhood is inhabited by a people whose roots are found in farming. Whether it be farming in the islands (Jamaica or the Bahamas) or farming in rural Georgia, most of my neighbors can trace their roots back to a farming culture. Some of my neighbors have found innovative ways to carry on their farming tradition here; however, the skill of farming has been largely lost in the generations who are a bit removed from the experience of migration. They have not gleaned the rich experience of farming from those who first migrated to our neighborhood.
Four years ago, the Carter Street Block Club (CSBC), which is an initiative of Urban Resurrection/InnerCHANGE Miami, determined that they wanted to tap back into those farming roots; they wanted to grow gardens on their street. Since that time, we have watched as interest in gardening has grown. People began not only showing an interest in planting gardens, but also an interest in learning how to garden well in order to develop healthier eating habits. In the midst of this growing interest in gardening, an organization approached Urban Resurrection/InnerCHANGE Miami about helping neighbors in West Coconut Grove plant edible gardens. Slow Food Miami (www.slowfoodmiami.org), a group of volunteer gardeners who are passionate about good food, supporting local growers, and celebrating Miami’s diversity, proposed a gardening starter project where six West Coconut Grove neighbors would be given a garden (raised bed, soil, plants, and all) in their own yard. When we surveyed neighbors to see whether we would have enough response to move forward with such a project, the response was overwhelming. We had more interested neighbors than gardens to go around.
After the tough task of narrowing down the garden recipients, Slow Food Miami called in Ready-To-Grow Gardens (www.ready-to-grow.com) to install each neighbor’s new 32 square foot raised garden bed. As I visited each neighbor at the installation of their raised bed, I could see the obvious excitement in their faces. On Saturday, November 5th, each new gardening neighbors crowded into my backyard eager to learn and to plant; thus Resurrection Gardens was birthed. Resurrection Gardens is a collaborative initiative through the partnership of West Coconut Grove neighbors, Urban Resurrection (www.urbanresurrection.org), and Slow Food Miami (www.slowfoodmiami.com) for the purpose of planting edible gardens in the West Coconut Grove neighborhood in spaces where gardens do not already exist. Through the sharing of gardening experience and harvest, Resurrection Gardens will produce fruitful community.