Oct 31, 2011
We had a lively discussion in class about the maintenance of public vs. private parks and gardens. I started the discussion by demonstrating how mowing grass short and blowing all detritus can lead to erosion and unhealthy compacted soil. I then stressed the merits of taller grass and raking lawns therefore leaving some leaf matter for nature to decompose and nourish the soil.
In class I teach the science and art of gardening and all the luxuries that go with it, peace of mind, health, fresh veg and herbs, sun on your face, cutting gardens, homemade compost teas… in the Emerald Necklace Parks the men are dealing in large scale reality. The goal there is a safe park, a park that is pleasing and healthy yes, but a park that looks inviting, feels safe, is accessible in all seasons. The Emerald Necklace Parks consist of 1,200 acres!
I sit in my ivory tower sorting organic bulbs and meanwhile these men are working 7 hours a day with heavy and loud equipment mowing and blowing and here I have the nerve to suggest raking is better.
Fortunately, my colleague was there to support me by reminding the class that it is important to know the science behind the maintenance but when it comes to large public parks the bottom line will always be time, budget, man power and most importantly making the parks safe.
After class I went to visit the second crew who were working on Pond Street in Brookline. They were working in the rain having blown away several acres worth of leaves and putting them into the truck to be brought to the city compost site. I left feeling proud of the hard work they are doing and happy with the skills I am teaching. This combination of skills they are acquiring, both through books, small hands on "fine gardening" as well as large scale public historic park maintenance will bode them well where they go next.
The men are doing such fantastic work in the parks, invaluable to all.