It’s 7:30 am, and I’ve just gotten my coffee and sat down to my crossword at O’Henry’s Coffee in Highland Park. A tall, 30-something-year-old man walks in and looks over my shoulder, offering me an answer that I jot down on the side. “I can’t believe you still do it in pen” he laughs, as he orders his latte from the curly-haired barista behind the counter. The barista already has it prepared for him. He sits with two more regulars by the window
overlooking the park; the cherry blossoms are budding, and spring seems close. I listen as they chat about classes, work, and politics. Another short-haired girl joins them, and the table bursts into laughter. I wave as my
neighbor walking his greyhound passes the window. It’s Monday, but really, it could be any day. It’s the same every morning. We gather. We share. We disperse. One of the unspoken rituals of a neighborhood that loves itself.
When I was approached by David Seamon to help Independent Presbyterian Church launch the Highland Park Community Gardens, I was thrilled. I couldn’t think of a more natural extension of our neighborhood’s innate sense of community than a community garden. Beyond that, though, there’s a real need for land in Highland Park. We live in the most densely populated neighborhood in the state. Moreover, many of our residents live in apartment rentals with few to no private outdoor areas. Our city parks mean a lot to us. That we can transform an unused bit of space in one of our parks into a beautiful, productive public project is exciting. That it will also be the very first community garden in a Birmingham city park is an honor. For our neighborhood, this garden means greater fellowship, stronger community ties, and, of course, more amazing food. It is a place for us to not only gather but work together to produce something of value for others.
We hope it will also be a place to inspire. That the unique sense of community in Highland Park will bear
a community garden that ignites repetition city parks throughout town. That a thriving community garden in a city park will be commonplace. That neighborhoods that gather, work together, and grow will become an unspoken ritual of a city that loves itself.
ABOUT THE GARDEN
ArchitectureWorks designed the garden space. Twenty-four plots will be available for $40 per season. To learn
more or to get involved, contact Torrie at email@example.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Torrie McDonald lives in Highland Park. She's a member of the Highland Park Community Garden Park Steering
Committee. She's also a master gardener.