Chuck Williams: Waiting on the weeds at Broadway farm

April 8, 2013 

Spent some time scratching the dirt last weekend.

For the second consecutive year, the crops are in the field.

Well, sort of.

I guess you can call half a city lot on Broadway a field. Fully planted, it looks like the field to me.

Last year, a group of us decided to become urban farmers. It was rewarding and frustrating. Digging, planting and growing is the fun part. But we got our butts kicked by the weeds. The so-called farm produced enough tomatoes, corn, squash, zucchini, okra, peppers, cucumbers and peas to keep six families in produce for a couple of months.

We even gave a generous lot to family and friends.

In the end, the grass that was there before we came up with the bright idea to turn the lot into a big garden came back in full force.

For those in the group -- namely my dad -- who are pure of heart when it comes to things like weeds in the garden, it was at times unpleasant. He would look at the garden and see weeds.

Not me, I looked at the garden and saw corn, tomatoes and pepper. They were just growing on top of grass -- kind of like a living Easter basket.

And every time I looked at it, I saw okra. The weeds were a foot tall, and the okra was 8 feet tall. The okra was clearly winning. Take that weeds.

I had nightmares this winter about cutting okra. Love to eat it, hate cutting it.

For me, the weeds were the cost of doing business. Especially when your group of farmers considered an eight-hour workday as eight folks showing up, working hard for an hour, then making a beeline for dinner.

Which brings us to this year's city-folks farm project. The club has grown a little. Now, we can work a 12-hour day.

The butter peas, corn, peppers, tomatoes, some herbs, zucchini and even that cursed okra are in the ground. We have documented the farm much better this year. The rows are actually numbered and we know what's on them. There is mulch spread between the rows to help choke back the weeds. And the watering system will be a little more advanced.

We're getting serious about this deal.

We even brought in a tractor and tiller. Take that weeds, though I am sure the nice farmer from Crawford is not accustom to uncovering lighters, syringes and bongs when he plows. But that is just part of the experience when you till a lot that was once next to a crime-invested apartment complex. The apartments are gone, but much of the evidence is still there.

There is something basic about urban farming. There is something richly rewarding about living in the city and knowing you don't have to buy your produce at the grocery store.

Now, it's a waiting game. And I am waiting on the weeds.

Chuck Williams, senior editor for content, chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com.

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