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fences and neighbors/multicultural veggies

  • Subject: [cg] fences and neighbors/multicultural veggies
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Fri, 23 May 2003 09:56:06 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, all,

Man, we are floating away down here! Never seen so
much rain (heavenly tears since Carolinian Clay Aiken
lost to Ruben Studdard, my wife says, but I'm not sure
about that...). 

Anyway, a good source for identifying tropical
vegetables is H. D. Tindall's _Vegetables in the
Tropics_. It has good descriptions, cultural advice
and names in lots of languages. 

I second Adam's caution that 'Vietnam' and 'Sudan' are
political entities, not language or cultural
groupings. Many Vietnamese 'Montagnards' (a European
catchall term for tribal peoples, something like
'Indian' in North America - there are roughly 40
different peoples among the Montagnards, each with a
distinct language and culture) have a very uneasy
relationship with ethnic Vietnamese, whom they accuse
of practicing ethnic cleansing and forced assimilation
- more to the point, many Montagnards don't speak
Vietnamese. Here's a helpful site:

Another group you may find mislabeled Vietnamese or
Cambodian are the Hmong, also mountain people of
Southeast Asia.

Sudan is likewise a quilt of different nations.

About fences, two of the most interesting and
attractive CGs in Charlotte are not fenced. One is
very attractively laid out, right in front of a high
rise subsidized public residence for seniors. The
other is a garden for the homeless, who are excluded
after hours by a high fence from the day services
facility and soup kitchen next door, but have 24/7
access to the garden. I'm not sure why these have done
well so far (both are only a couple of years old). We
don't have moose in Charlotte, that helps <:). There
is strong community 'buy in' and a sense of community
ownership, and in the homeless garden the harvest
belongs to all, so people are free to forage at will.
Other local CGs done with 'chain link around the
vacant lot' are about as inviting as concentration
camps, especially during the winter. I have seen good
looking gardens with fences, though, like Adam's in

A few suggestions - If you have a fence, grow
something on it (cukes, 'maters, roses, lablab
beans...) and grow flowers along it to soften the
look. Don't assume chainlink is the only choice,
consider varied fencing materials, including recycled
wood or stone, or a living fence. Make a nice looking
gate. And use eco-psychology. Charles Long in _How to
survive without a salary_ has a funny story about how
a ripe pile of manure ended problems with kids fooling
around in his urban garden, after a perp put his foot
in it. Tell stories - there might be some snakes in
that compost pile, you never know...

Good luck. Fences have their pros and cons, but they
represent a big budget item, too.

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte, NC

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