These days my hometown of Stilwell, Kansas, is more suburb than farmland, but when I was growing up it was still quite rural.
My parents built their house in the 70s, and on their two-acres of land my dad has always planted a vegetable garden - tomatoes, corn, bell, jalapeno, cayenne and poblano peppers, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce... even the occasional pumpkin when my brother and I abandoned our rotting, frowning jack-o-lanterns in early November and one or more rogue seeds took root the following spring.
When I moved into my own place the summer after I graduated high school, I didn't realize how much I would miss having ready-to-pick cherry tomatoes in my back yard or having fresh broccoli on which to pour a shitload of melted cheddar cheese. Instead I had a concrete rectangle also known as a "patio" facing a dumpster on which someone had spray-painted "fuck you" in neon purple.
Given my affinity for planting seeds and watching them grow - both literally and metaphorically, mind you - I was super excited when I began hearing that urban community gardens were becoming a thing in KC. Despite all the chatter, though, I never saw one anywhere, much less in my neighborhood. I began to suspect, like the so-called "snow plows" that supposedly clear the streets in the winter, that it was all a myth, too good to be true.
But last Sunday my friend I. and I were walking off our latest Christopher Elbow ice cream adventure (blueberry lemon sorbet with toasted coconut ice cream - yum!) when we totally stumbled upon a community garden on 51st and Main, where each plot is owned and tended by a different group or family.
"Holy shit," I said, "they do exist," and then I pulled out my cell phone and started snapping pictures of some rhubarb, much to I.'s confusion.
And if further rumors are to be believed, a community garden is coming to my boyfriend's West Side neighborhood, which means I just may have time to plant a fall garden. Fingers crossed.