This is one of the smartest rain barrel contraptions I have seen, spotted at the Alex Wilson Community Garden here in Toronto. They don’t have access to a downspout but turned that around by setting up some kind of pipe system that funnels rainwater into this massive tub that also probably collect some amount of rain due to the large surface area. The multi-tiered system allows a great deal of water to be stored long-term.
Unfortunately, the following story about this particular rain barrel might turn some off the idea of contructing one in the first place. I think it just adds to the charming surprise of city gardening. Apparently when the system was first constructed, and before it had a protective mesh top, a friend of a friend arrived at his plot one day to find a nude man emersed in the “tub” taking a bath!
I often dream of hens clucking around in a small garden pecking at bugs and laying fresh, organic eggs but alas that is not going to happen living in the cold, white north with no backyard or shelter against raccoons and minus will-it-never-end winters. And seriously, that was an actual question. Will winter never end? I see photos online of people working outside in tank tops and flip flops. Dangling their springy, warm weather like an evil, tortuous carrot. We’re still wearing layers and big jackets over here people! Local weather reports keep reminding me that it is unseasonably cold. Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I like to hear. That and the words “possible flurries.” But I digress (a lot). I found the book “Keep Chickens!” by Barbara Kilarski at Pistils Nursery in Portland, Oregon and while I can not provide a full review it looked like a very thorough introduction and resource to urban chicken-keeping.
The ultra modern, ultra stylish, and ultra expensive Eglu is not helping to curb the fantasy one bit. It’s like an imac for chickens!
Over the long weekend we happened upon an open garage door while walking through a Toronto alley. Two large bird coops lined the side walls. So strong is my chicken-keeping itch that it took me half a minute to clue in that those were not chickens cooing back at me but fancy pigeons. After five years, I think I’ve finally solved the mystery of turkey pigeon!
Urban Chicken Keeping Resources
Once again I am trying to catch up on the garden visits I have made over the last three months. La Plaza Cultural is a community garden in New York City’s Alphabet City neighborhood (9th and Avenue C) that I have visited twice but only from the outside. But what a fantastic outside it is. The garden spans a large corner block and the fence along both sides is covered along the top with beautiful junk flowers artfully fashioned from tin cans, detergent bottles, beer caps, and just about any indestructable junk imaginable. Like other gardens in the area it was built up from the rubble and debris of abandoned tenements and trash and nurtured into a community space that has thrived since the late 70s.
This is the entrance on 9th Ave. The text on the wall reads, “The Struggle Continues” in spanish and english.
Someone in the area has been making and installing homemade birdhouses utilizing more junk materials. I found a few scattered around the neighbourhood. Surprising little discoveries like these are one of the aspects of city-living that I cherish most.
Someone altered the text on this sign. It’s too bad that there are class issues arising around the garden although I would bet most of those problems are tied to the swiftly changing face of the neighborhood rather than the garden itself.
This is a little of what I saw only a week ago in Portland. I’ve got to get on developing my film so I can coast on images of actual living things through these last foul weeks/months of winter. Click on the images to see them larger.
Lush, green carpets of fresh moss covering every static surface. The moss shown here is on the side of a tree trunk. I touched and rubbed a lot of trees. I’m guessing the locals are used to that.
I fell in love with these gorgeous pathways at the Chinese Garden. The garden features several, completely unique pathways meticulously crafted from tiny river rocks. Let’s face it, I am never going to have the money or time and patience to devote to something like this but it’s inspirational none-the-less.
Plum trees were blooming at the garden. I devoted a lot of time and film to soaking these beauties in knowing it would be months before I’d see such colours again in the outside world.
I recently returned from a short trip to New York City. This was a purely personal trip so despite the cold I did what I love best, wandering the streets with my camera. My favourite part of the city is The Lower East Side, The East Village, and Alphabet City areas. This upper part of this area also happens to be the birthplace of the modern community and guerilla gardening here in North America. There are several imaginative and beautiful gardens scattered amongst the buildings that were born in the late 70′s and early 80′s out of the community’s desire to turn dangerous, abandoned waste spaces into safe and useful community spaces for the neighborhood. While locals and organizers have had to arduously fight against rising real estate value and gentrification to keep the gardens alive, a few have been granted park status by the city and remain in place. If you ever get a chance to visit New York I highly recommend getting a peek at some of the gardens. You can use this searchable map to locate and map out all of the gardens in the area.
This is the 6th and Ave B Garden [Note: This photo was taken in May 2005], a massive garden that takes up the entire corner of a city block. The garden’s website chronicles its history and shows what the block looked like when it was just a pile of rubble and debris.
Eddie’s Sculpture at the 6th and B Garden. This sculpture has created a lot of controversy. I was surprised to see it was still there just a few days ago.
Unfortunately, the gardens were all closed for the winter but I still managed to take a few pictures by poking my lens through fences.
I was also fortunate enough to visit many of these gardens as a part of my book launch back in May 2005. You can see more pictures from that trip here.