Laura Bruno – Seen At The Elkhart County Fair + A Garden Update – 27 July 2014

laura-of-the-rocksDavid had free tickets to the Elkhart County Fair — a little perk from work — so we decided to go one night this week. I was surprised to find a huge aquaponics display, an up and coming (Amish?) business in nearby Middlebury. In addition to awareness of food security, we saw solar panels. Apparently, our friend Paul’s letter to the editor last year gained traction, because this year we also saw recycling bins and … vegetables! Now, mind you, nearly all of those vegetables were fried; however, an enterprising fair goer could find deep-fried pickles, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini. David and I also managed to find some “pit-tatoes” cooked in a BBQ pit, which were actually surprisingly yummy.

My favorite parts of the fair included the following prizewinning entry from a 5th grader:

Fairies at the Fair

And who knew Orchestral Concert Band Organs were making a comeback?!

Stinson Band Organ

The age of digital music has allowed a nearly forgotten “Object D’Art” of old world charm to return as an economically feasible concert quality entertainment. How lovely! David, whose father hails from Amsterdam, tells me these Orchestral Concert Band Organs are quite common in the Netherlands. What fun!

We also saw various demonstrations of Square Foot Gardening, canning contest winners, and … wait for it … The Tractor Pull Contest. OK, we had no interest in that black smoke chugging, eardrum splitting event, and it’s a good thing, too. When we went to peek at all the commotion, we were quickly ushered away: “We’re FULL!”

Well, then, I guess it’s still Northern Indiana after all, but it was nice to see acknowledgement of the benefits of organic gardening, aquaponics, off grid and low watering options, as well as touches of faery magic. A pleasant surprise before returning to the full on faery farm our yard’s becoming. 🙂

This morning warmed my heart as I watched the neighbor girls run through the butterfly garden I planted for them. They were giggling and frolicking as they chased butterflies and admired sunflowers three or more times taller than they are. Another neighbor walked down to ask where I got my mulch, as he needed a tree cutter for a dead tree. I love giving my mulch guy business, and the yard has now connected us to neighbors on both sides. The eldest next door neighbor girl proudly assembled their compost bin, and the next in line has agreed to water my potted plants when I travel to the North American Permaculture Convergence later next month.

Yesterday, several strangers stopped to admire the flowers, and a group of eight Amish bicyclists smiled and nodded approvingly at the star and flowers. LOL, when Amish people smile at your garden, you know you’re doing something right!

star

David’s dad frequently stops by on his errands to look at flowers that remind him “of the all railroad gardens in Holland.” When David’s sister’s in town, she stops for peppermint, and last night on her way into town, she dropped off apple mint for planting. (This apple mint comes from the farm of the family friend for whom David was named. It has been in the family for over 50 years!)

A neighborhood representative yesterday dropped off notice of the neighborhood meeting in August and stopped to marvel at all the flowers, and yesterday, our giggling neighbor/mom asked her 6-year-old stepdaughter who kept craning her neck to look at the tops of the sunflowers: “Are those the biggest flowers you’ve ever seen?” The neighbors across the back alley want to order their own Garden Tower, and offered to give me strawberry plants. On other occasions, they’ve proudly opened their fence to me, so I could tour their own spectacular and secret garden.

I hosted our weekly Goshen Garden Gals Gathering this past Wednesday, and one of the attendees went on and on about what an eyesore this property used to be — for decades. She declared that the transformation of this yard has upgraded this entire section of town from horrible to gorgeous in just two summers.

I planted this garden for many reasons — adding beauty to a blighted part of town being a major one of those reasons, because my soul needs beauty. But the way this once dilapidated, ugly spot has magically become a happy gathering place truly warms my heart. Between garden helpers trading yard work for sessions, neighbor children running through the paths to chase butterflies, neighbors chatting with me as I prune geraniums or harvest collards, and all the people dropping off cardboard boxes, coffee grounds and mulch, it’s almost like having a community garden or park on our block, and I love sharing this joy, beauty and bounty with those around.

sunnies and butterly gardens

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