far eastside visit – feedom freedom

friends were selling with food lab at the jazzin on jefferson festival this weekend.  when i arrived at jazzin it was pretty early in the day, only about 3pm and things hadn’t really got started.

the folks that were around seemed to be having a laid back good time.  i had a long conversation with a guy that came up to me about the benefits of the brooks saddle, which we were both riding on.  i found this especially entertaining as most folks who ride brooks saddles are on touring bikes or racing bikes.  he was riding a vintage schwinn children’s bike with 18 inch wheels, a huge seat post and some serious ape hangers.

friends sales were slow but steady.  i chatted with them a while, tried to drum up some sales, but i think mostly was driving folks away.

round the corner is this mural which i’ve viewed from a far but never bothered to take a look at close up.  the third mural from the left features an image of wayne curtis, my friend and hero and the mural on the far right is a painting he did.  the garden that he and his wife, mytle (another hero of mine) started, feedom freedom is right around the corner.

i had actually seen wayne earlier in the day.  a black suv passed me while i was riding, and then slowed down to a crawl.  i slowed down too, trying not to approach it.  in the past when a driver would do this i usually get insults, and didn’t want to deal with it.  but the driver kept slowing down, and i had to pass, to my surprise it was wayne, with his signature enormous grin.  when i told him i was going to be at jazzin on jefferson, he said i should visit afterwords, and so, when finished starting at this beautiful mural i pedaled on down the street.

feedom freedom is a garden on the far eastside of detroit.  only blocks from the suburb of grosse pointe, but that doesn’t mean that the neighborhood it is in shares any resemblance to the affluent communities near by.  feedom freedom is one of my favorite gardens.  so much is going on in such a small space, and it’s aways alive with activity.  the garden is full of art, flowers, signs, a hoop house, plenty of veggies, a sitting spot in the shade, and compost.  wayne apologies for it not being in great order, but the garden is a shining example of a well maintained garden.

feedom freedom put a lot of work into compost, something i’m especially impressed with, since building your own soil embodies the spirit of self-determination.  so many gardens in the city depend on other sources for compost, looking to purchase or donations of compost.  feedom freedom has dedicated a good portion of their space to compost bins.inside the hoop house a healthy crop of tomatoes is thriving in the warm conditions.  on the other side of the hoop house new  beds were being prepared by james, james, and dre.  james is from la and other james is from north carolina.  both are here to visit because they are interested in what is happening in detroit, interested in the rebirth of the city.  dre has more modest motivations, he is hoping that by working he will be able to earn five bucks for some chilli cheese fries and an icy at jazzin on jefferson.  wayne tries to get him to memorize his definition of power in exchange for the aforementioned cash.  when neither can make good on the bargain, dre unable to recite, and wayne without money, dre demands honey sweetened water with ice, and a spoonful of honey too.

i sit on the back porch listening to them carry on.  i’m impressed by the boldness of this young man.  i certainly wouldn’t be making the demands of my elder the way he does.  wayne seems entertained,  invites dre back, encouraging him to plant pumpkins to sell and make his five dollars.  leave it to an adult to come up solutions that take months of hard to see any pay off.

i talk with james from la about his reason for being in detroit.  he explains he has pretty much sold everything and moved to detroit, because he felt called.  not to save the city in some missionary sort of way, but because the city will change him.  it is his place to discover himself and grow.  i’m kind of taken aback by this young mans story, is he crazy?  or a visionary?  maybe something in-between.

as i pedal off, i feel richer and having grown a little.   you know that a garden is really special when it grows not just vegetables, but people too.

you can read a bit more about feedom freedom here in an article i wrote about them last year.

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3 responses to “far eastside visit – feedom freedom

  1. That sounds like a vibrant community.

  2. I visited Feedom Freedom almost exactly a year ago, looks like they have had some great growth since then.

  3. Pingback: eastside garden tour | little house on the urban prairie

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