My latest design/memory-keeping project in 'real time' is the documentation of our family garden; from seedlings to table. By 'real time' I mean I'm writing and creating the book as we progress, rather than after the fact.
At this point it is wide open. I'm considering each aspect of the book: desired shot lists, hand-written notes, type faces, all within the context of what the story is really about. Right now I'm collecting raw materials: photos, words, ideas ...
There are many reasons why we are planting a vegetable garden:
primarily to feed ourselves, but also ...
to engage our children in the physical realities from where food comes,
to make our home's landscape productive and useful,
to continue to strengthen a sense of community with our immediate neighbors,
for beautification of our property,
to improve personal resource management (ie. compost, rainwater collection, lower grocery budgets, etc.)
for sentimental reasons; recalling childhood summers tasting snap peas in my Grandparents yard ...
I've got to be forthright: the composting aspect concerns me. I know it's a responsible thing to do, but we live in a city. In the past we have had a regional problem with rats. It gets hot here. I don't want smells coming from my yard. I'm squeamish. These are things I'll be working through and overcoming.
Of course basic access to sunlight and water are important garden planning factors. However, the guiding principles we're using are from Christopher Alexander's book, A Pattern Language. His timeless writings resonate very soundly right now:
"In a healthy town every family can grow vegetables for itself. The time is past to think of this as a hobby for enthusiasts; it is a fundamental part of human life." -- pattern #177 vegetable garden
And also ...
"Children, so much more spontaneous and intuitive, give us a view in microcosm. .. how much more often they prefer side yards and gardens which have some privacy, yet also some exposure to the street...This balance can only be created in a situation where the garden is half in front and half in back -- in a word, at the side, protected by a wall from too great exposure ..." -- pattern # 111 The half-hidden garden.
This makes a lot of sense for our project being situated on a narrow city lot. We'll have squash, pumpkins and a cucumber trellis on one side by the gate; tomatoes, zuccini, peppers, beets and herbs in raised beds on the other side.
I'm keeping my eyes on the prize, remembering last year's small, but delicious bounty.
That list of motivating rationale (above) is all about nurturing. Nurturing the plant life, ourselves, our property, and our community. That theme has been percolating with me for some time, since early fall when I started baking my own bread. It's the right word and the right theme for this new not-so-mini book on our family garden.
I'll share sections of the garden journal periodically (as it comes together) throughout the spring and summer here on the blog.