West Coconut Grove is smack dab in the middle of Miami, but it’s still known as some of the lushest land in the whole city. Native residents talk about how, “back in the day,” you could walk through the neighborhood snacking on fruit from the many fruit trees scattered around. From coconuts to mangoes to avocados, limes, and papayas…you name it, it grew here.
Even today, the neighborhood attracts people from surrounding areas who seek to benefit from the abundant harvest. It seems fitting then that West Coconut Grove 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 even found innovative ways to carry on their farming tradition here.
But the skill of farming has been largely lost in the generations who are 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), 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 an interest in gardening grow. People began to not only show an interest in planting gardens, but to also show 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 our team about helping neighbors in West Coconut Grove plant edible gardens. Slow Food Miami, a group of volunteer gardeners who are passionate about growing good food, supporting local growers, and celebrating Miami’s diversity, proposed a gardening starter project wherein six West Coconut Grove neighbors would be given a garden (raised bed, soil, plants, and all) in their own yard. When we surveyed our neighbors to see whether there would be 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 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 excitement on their faces. On Saturday November 5th 2011, each new gardening neighbor crowded into my backyard eager to learn and to plant. This is how Resurrection Gardens was birthed.
Resurrection Gardens is a collaborative initiative between West Coconut Grove neighbors, Urban Resurrection, and Slow Food Miami to plant edible gardens in the West Coconut Grove neighborhood in spaces where gardens do not already exist. Through the sharing of gardening experience and harvest, we prayerfully expect this project will produce fruitful community in the years to come.