Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Mother Of All Pumpkins

Last year as part of an ornamental display this guerrilla gardener placed a pumpkin next to a little stack of hay in the Lakshmi Garden. The following spring mysterious sprouts of the genus Cucurbita began to emerge from the barren back fill. The blossoms that resulted lifted the veil of uncertainty on those young plants. From that produce one full grown pumpkin has resulted. We have placed her back in her home earth to begin the cycle anew.

Monday, September 10, 2012


After six weeks abroad I returned to New York City and was shocked to see the Lakshmi Garden overgrown with weeds. Ok. I wasn't actually shocked. We had been locked out earlier in the summer by the property "owners", and a drunken, disgruntled, neighbor, who has been actively campaigning against the garden was caught red-handed,tearing down our sign at 3am (recovered). After that there was a degree of emotional exhaustion that ensued.
Vincent in action

Rachel gets it done
Jeremy D. however was undeterred and his fresh energy led the charge back into the fray. I was woozy with jet-lag when he insisted that we get back to work... immediately. He urged me to send out a call for volunteers via email. I didn't see the point. With barely 12 hours notice I doubted any busy Manhattanite would respond. I was wrong. At our peak last Saturday there were 10 volunteers working in the garden.

We had reached an agreement with the "owners of record" at the last block association meeting. After we articulated to them that "we come in peace" their position changed from eviction to "not opposed to the garden but concerned with liability issues". Fortunately for us our fiscal sponsor stepped up to the plate and provided us coverage. The rider and other documentation has been forwarded to them. They have not responded. Our position is that until we hear otherwise... it's a go.

On September 1st while I was out of town there was a Harlem Gardens walk. Jeremy was there to host and relayed to me via text that over 100 people visited the Lakshmi Community garden.  Among them was Roland C. deputy director of Green Thumb. He enthusiastically supports our efforts and has articulated a plan going forward. You can imagine how pleased I was to read this poolside in Reno.

Thanks to all of you who showed up last Saturday. Tremendous inroads are being made toward establishing our garden infrastructure.

If you are reading this and are interested in participating, please come by. Lakshmi Community Garden embraces the principles of Radical Inclusion. No one will be turned away. All are welcome.


The miracle pumpkin

My homeboy phil.
Norman and Steven

Monday, July 16, 2012

A few recent arrivals in the garden


Name this aster and win a prize (not really)


California Poppy

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 21st - Solstice Celebration and Neighborly Gathering

Sonia is a food genius. She also has some kind of kick-ass job in the medical field. She tried to explain it to me but I got lost shortly after "gastrointestinal". Ironically, she wants to segue into catering. Working the other end of the business I guess. She absolutely had the goods last Thursday with a style that was somewhere between Rome and The Hamptons.

That's Shoshana in the red dress. She's the garden's community liaison. She did an extraordinary job keeping this event on track and happening.

The guy in the pink shirt is named Arthur. He's a musician too. Ok Arthur consider yourself outed.

Just over his shoulder to the right is Fabio and little Giovanni. He is already such a little man. I love him.

That's Pam in the upper left corner, she's a burner like me, Rene. We were musing about the Pagan nature of celebrating the Solstice. My personal feeling is that completing a trip of millions of miles through the galaxy and around the sun is something worth celebrating.

That's Blake in the middle. He and Kosi are celebrating their half-aversary. 

Leaning in is Jeremy, a brand new neighbor. He told me that he is "the best beast of burden you will ever find". So far, it's true. He also plays a shiny little alto sax.  

Sitting on the stage is Yevette. She said it made her "feel like a groupie."

The Band. From left to right. René Calvo, Kosi Gyebi-Sorenson, Jerome Jackson (relative of Michael and Mahalia Jackson, great, great, great grandson of Andrew Jackson, Yeah. That's whats up.) and on Bass David Elijah White III

The guy far left in the plaid shirt is Craig. A great problem solver and utility player. He lives one block away but we have adopted him.

That's Rohan all the way in front. She came on the 2 train. She's Pam's friend.

No idea.

That's Samaya's grandmother by the gate. Samaya is around 10. They both walk up and down the block together. Once she collected snails from the garden for a school project. I'm considering putting together a big collection posse and going after them next year.  I'll put them in a giant marinara sauce and feed everybody. The blonde in the middle is Sonia's friend. She's a cellist. That's all we know at this point. Guy on the car I don't know.

There were so many kids everywhere, and that's not even counting us. The foursome in the front are Rylee, Hudson, Alessandro and Cody. Alessandro had a breakthrough on the Solstice. The other three (whom we call "The Shirtless Gang" because when they get really riled up they take their shirts off, just ask Sonia) They would never let Alessandro "join in any reindeer games" because he was too little. Thursday marked his official trail entry into the gang.

Arthur's boys. The one next to him is a musician too.

Hey that's George Moorer!

The guy in the red shirt is Larry. He is legally blind. He is also a musician and sings with a group called The Lighthouse Singers in NYC. They have an annual concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I'm going to use this picture to say that the one taking these shots is Gini Little. So you are seeing everything through her eyes. Gini was a fine lieutenant during this adventure. She was a key player in getting the funding together and is an essential contributor to our online Think Tank sessions.

Jeremy Jumps in.

I'd also like to shout out to Daniel Frolo and Ray Franks who built the Deck we all were singing on.

Is that Bala in white? Kosi calls him "My Nigerian friend."

And the sun sets. Happy Solstice. See you next year. Lakshmi willing. :) You can see The Goddess Lakshmi (band) live at Paris Blues on Sunday evenings at 8pm.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nearing Completion

Photo: Jeremy Donson

Putting the finishing touches on it. There are 27 names for this thing and so far 26 are forbidden. Concert tomorrow night as part of Make Music New York. Come celebrate the solstice with us. 6:00pm potluck, music around 7 til 9pm.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 16th ... Deck-building day !

In attendance. Daniel Frolo & Ray Franks, construction crew. Rene Calvo and Susan Stillman, Brush removal. Shoshana Hauley, Public Relations, Gini Little, Documentation. Aaron Lipman and Bala, moral support and waggish commentary. Thanks to all. Rene

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Before Liberation Day

A little over two years ago the Lakshmi Community Garden had it's beginnings. Even longer than that if you count the cat houses.

This boarded up former crack den, former dilapidated building, former collapsing hazard had been a blight on 123rd street for over 20 years.  After a concerted community effort, in May of 2010, the city tore it down.

Immediately afterwards neighborhood activists began climbing the fence and planting wildflower seeds.

To the amazement of all within a month life was coming back.

Friday, May 11, 2012


We are one of the winners of a grant from Citizen's Committee for New York City.