Resumé of a garden inspector

I remember the one and only time I tried to grow my own vegetables. I was about 10 years old and decided to use a tiny patch of dirt to grow my own carrots. I've never been a big fan of vegetables, but I found carrots semi-palatable at the time, so I decided to grow those.

Just for the sake of variety I also planted a few radishes, chosen because the seeds were cheap. Of course despite the careful nurturing care I gave, (I may have watered them once or twice. Fertilizer, what's fertilizer?) not a single carrot grew, but mounds and mounds of radishes kept growing. Since I don't like radishes, the spicy little roots were growing much more quickly than I could eat them. That was my one and only experience with growing my own food.

I am fascinated by people who enjoy gardening. I like to go to the Tuesday Grower's Market, except I treat it like a trip to the local zoo. I pretend to be shopping, while really I'm staring in drop-jawed amazement at people who are able to create edible things out of dirt (I've heard rumor that a seed or two may be involved). Would it be appropriate to take pictures of these people, since I am like a tourist from food-culture far, far away?

I'm sure that these people who are so deeply connected to the earth and possess magical food-creating capabilities were disappointed to hear that water restrictions would apply to them like everyone else in the case of a water curtailment, as we experienced last summer. I support people who are growing their own food having a little extra water to use over the course of a month. These are local people trying to live their lives in a way that is healthy to their own bodies as well as to the environment around them.

The City Council decided that creating a separate category of water curtailment for people with food gardens would be too much work for city staff. I say to put the cost burden on the people with the gardens. The city could charge $30 for an inspector to come out and check that their garden is actually growing vegetables and applying water saving techniques. Hey, City of Ashland, for $30 per home visit I will be your new home garden inspector. I may be terrible at growing my own food, but I am excellent at standing around staring at other people's hard work. That's actually what I led with the last time I updated my resumé.

Community gardens could also be the answer for people who want to grow their own food even during years of drought. Several city parks around town have community gardens already started in them. There is plenty of space left in the other parks around town to put a garden in them as well. Why not put community gardens into empty lots as well? During real estate boom times in Ashland it was unimaginable that a lot would sit empty long enough for a plant to grow on it, but now there seem to be more than just a few available spaces in town. A little bit of organization with your neighbors, and I bet your neighborhood could get a community garden too!

Or instead of getting all worked up we can all take a deep breath, eat a root vegetable and remember that water curtailment is still fairly rare. The City of Ashland has asked us to limit our water usage just twice in the last ten years.

Ironically my son is growing radishes in the community garden behind his grandparents' house. Just when I thought I was old enough that no one could force me to eat a radish again, here I am, eating them fresh from the garden every day.

Zoë Abel believes there should also be water curtailment exceptions for people who really need a long shower every day. Zoë's out eating a radish right now, so you can email her at

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