General Sisters, anything but a general summer.
In March when there was the kind of snow that green sprigs and purple buds emerge out of Ginger and I went to work on moving General Sisters forward. The floor. Under the guidance of Mia we pulled up the rotten areas of the flooring, and subfloor while replacing completely lost floor joists and sistering the rest. The subfloor has been replaced and is strong, holding us as we move throughout the building. April and May were months full of garden planning and waking up soil. Our Bloodroot, Nettles, Solomon’s Seal, Trout Lilies, Trillium and Dogtooth Violets, gave us the signal that the ground was thawing and hungry for seeds and by mid-May ready to welcome all of the seedlings that Ginger had started in our tiny greenhouse. General Sisters garden was designed based on slowness, acceptance of the land and a vision for how the rain water could move from plant to plant and root to root. It started with a triangle at the top of the hill and in the first year triangles were added on, all the way down the hill creating a terraced zigzag structure. Bricks created curved walk ways and the second year led to another set of triangle beds, that fit inside of the original zigzag which is bordered with Clary Sage, Sweet Annie, Feverfew and California Poppies. Below the triangle beds is a long, narrow bed where the sunchokes, myoga, and raspberries are learning to make room for garlic, corn, shiso and rice. This year large bamboo poles invited pole beans our friend Sarah gave us to grow tall above the bottom diamond of the forest floor under the mulberry tree. To the left of the forest floor, across from the hops, below the Motherwort, the Marshmallow and in between the two year old hazelnut trees and the fig tree Ginger transplanted from our neighbor Pat – Ginger introduced two new beds this year, one for potato trials and squashes and the other of composting straw for tomatoes and basil. The garden grows, we learn and we try to listen closely, and to move with the pace of the plants. June in the garden is when the leaves take shape, the pollinators begin to find their stopping points and colors emerge, the kale, sorrel, peas, rocket, mustards, say yes, eat me so I can keep growing and the pepper varieties, tomatoes, beans, root veggies, corn, delicatas and eggplant’s flowers bloom and make room for the shape of our harvest. July and August were months when the companion plants were shading, raising and leaning on each other. The Clary Sage, oh the Clary Sage who bloomed in her second year, the flowers are the shape of tiny crescent moons that emerge from what looks like an elongated hop! When you pinch the purple flower a moist sweet droplet lands on your tongue, and the oils leave a smell so full of every moment of life on your finger tips that your body can’t help but dance. In August as the garden was filling up our harvest basket and the lavender was in its second blooming General Sisters sister Ayanah Moor translated an earlier General Sisters print into a wall painting on the front and on the side of the building. Ayanah planted her feet firmly, high on the ladder, reaching the top of the building to paint General then Sisters and under Sisters making the negative space become the positive space, a list of sisters from Octavia Butler, to Sylvia Rivera, to Audre Lorde, to to Vandana Shiva to Wangari Maathi; who we work from, who we work next to and who we work in honor of. The names call our neighbors into the garden along with the scents of whatever is the bloom of the day or the taste of the hour for conversation, for inspiration and for nourishment. Oh friends! Every day was a delight, to arrive at the garden. To be welcomed into a place that contains so much thought, so much spirit and the space to either focus on the smallest moment and see the most expansive beauty or to breathe in the garden as a whole – connected to the beauty of the ecosystem that needs us to see ourselves as part of it. Welcome to General Sisters. There is room for you here.