There wasn’t much to offer this past Saturday at the Sharing Garden I created and steward at a community garden for refugees-of-war. Lingering heat has slowed the emergence and abundance of fall greens, and all the summer crops are gone except the jalapeños (those Southern garden rock stars).
I had harvested recently but knew that this day was the last day of the Community Fridge at Refuge Coffee, a converted gas station that hires and trains refugees and also serves as a community gathering space (and where I ride my bike after the garden almost every week).
I don’t know why the Community Fridge is ending — all I know is many people rely on it and I have placed my crops in the sometimes-empty but often eclectically-filled fridge almost every week after riding my bike to this garden to weed and water. I’ve made a few TikToks of it. Here are two:
So I picked one jalapeño, and then another. A total of six. Many more still hung from the plants but they would be larger next week and then the next and the next, so I left them. I thought how, after the fridge in gone, I could give them, bungee-corded to the my bike rack, to people I meet on the street; trade them with other gardeners; or task kids who come to this garden to play to bring them home with them, as I have done many times before with other crops. Jalapeños add spice and flavor to beans and rice and can help create culturally-appropriate meals and memories. They matter.
Six, I decided, would be enough. It would have to be. It was all I had.
And so I strapped them on to my bike and rode to the fridge, where I saw a crowd gathered. Families still carrying trauma, torture, terror in their bodies were politely taking turns with the last of the offerings. I slipped in at some point and added my meager contribution. I bought a muffin from the bright red food truck and lingered, as usual. I skipped the hibiscus iced tea this time. My garden neighbor’s hibiscus plants will be flowering soon and I will trade with her, as we did recently with her hibiscus leaves and my squash. I will make tea. It will be nice.
My meager handful of peppers was not enough to feed the world, of course. It would never be enough. But it was something. And that, I’ve learned over time and gardens and bike rides, was more than nothing.
Note: This story is cross-posted on my other blog, Traveling at the Speed of Bike. You may enjoy that site as well.
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