Written by Panorama resident, Carolyn Treadway. June 2016
The raspberries are ripe! How excitedly we anticipate the time every summer when the raspberries ripen. When the berries are bright red, luscious, juicy, and ripe enough to fall from a slightly moved branch. Then it’s time for immediate picking, feasting, and preserving, for sure.
Even before we moved to Panorama two years ago, we had placed our name on the waiting list for a plot in the Pea Patch—Panorama’s community garden–but had not expected a plot to be available until the following summer. Imagine our surprise when we received word a month later that a plot was now available. Other residents, traveling a lot, had decided to relinquish their plot. When we first visited it, it was overflowing with already mature produce—and with weeds. Immediately we said a resounding yes to renting this plot, and set about harvesting and weeding. All summer, we had a bumper crop of the wonderful vegetables and flowers that the previous plot renters had planted. What a gift! We saw a long row of berry plants, but thought they were blackberries. Not until the next spring did we realize they were our favorite berries—red raspberries. Again, what a gift!
Imagine the beauty and joy of being in the garden on a cool, bright June day, picking berries! Gorgeous, delicious berries by the handfuls. Birds flitting around, singing to us. A gentle breeze blowing. Friendly chatter from nearby gardeners working in their plots. The light changing, shifting into late afternoon. One could easily call it “berry picking BLISS!” What’s not to love about a time like this?”
However, there is a shadow upon the day, and upon the garden. Even amidst my “bliss” and my profound gratitude for our beautiful berries, I am keenly aware of the fragility of their presence. The existence of these berries (and all others) is completely dependent upon the bees, butterflies, and insects that pollinate them. In another part of our garden we have allowed a sage plant to grow large and bloom into seed. The bees love this plant. Almost every time I look at it, at least one ever-busy bee is buzzing within it. We keep our sage to provide for the bees.
Across our nation, pollinators are in big trouble, especially bees. Even here at Panorama, many beehives in our community garden died out in several consecutive recent years. Were they lost from Colony Collapse Disorder, pesticide use, or other factors? At this point, we do not know. I long for the day when every gardener of the 100 Pea Patch plots would find it unthinkable to use probably-carcinogenic glyphosate weed killers like Roundup and neonicotinoid pesticides that are lethal to bees and pollinators. I long for the day when big box stores will no longer sell us such products, nor plants pre-treated with neonics. I long for the day when all of us realize the importance of our own choices and our individual actions to protect and preserve not only our personal gardens but also our Earth, our only home.