While walking with a forester in East Oak Lane in January I started seeing the neighborhood and its trees through his eyes. I have only lived here since 2018 and only tapped our sugar maple in early 2020. And early on the kids and I tagged many of our trees and bushes as the previous owners of the house had planted and cared for a wonderful and varied garden full of trees and flowering bushes. I knew that many of my neighbors love their trees and also love to garden in their shade and shadows. Walking with Matt, the forester, though, I started seeing it all differently. The neighborhood is an arboretum. Extending further, reading the City's Tree Canopy Assessment and more recent strategic plan I saw that that designation, the city as arboretum changes the way I think about the city. What if every tree was identified and cared for like the trees at Awbury, Morris, or Longwood Gardens? The city's trees, especially its large trees are no less grand, beautiful, or important and that is true when they are young, mature, older, and eventually too even after they are dead.
Meanwhile, when the family behind Millers Apiary stopped by yesterday with their amazing Elderberry syrup which I exchanged for a jar of just off the stove maple syrup blend (from 4 species of trees we tapped in North Philly) they told me about a bread maker, and a cheesemaker and that they knew a number of beekeepers. I know folks with chickens, lots of veggie gardeners too. We don't all have to do it all and many people don't have the land or the time to garden a large farm. But if we have even a potted tomato plant, small herb garden, or learn how to forage for edible mushrooms or can help neighbors who are caring for others and can't or don't have the ability to tend a garden maybe we can learn to become a farm, together too.
The city as arboretum. The community as farm.