Above: The Tacoma Narrows Rotary provides integral support at University Place Community Garden. All photos copyright 2012 by Mizu M. Sugimura.
How do you build a community? If Tacoma-Pierce County's two-year old Community Garden Project is any example you can do it with tomato plants. Don't like tomatoes? How about bonding over a bag of bush beans? Chatting up the new neighbors over cauliflower, crisp stalks of collards or by sharing the full bounty of the harvest with wheelbarrows brimming with colorful striped gourds, ripening pumpkins and delectible summer squash?
Above: Each garden as each neighborhood and community has its own individual personality and charm.Handpainted sign and handpainted rock creatures greet visitors at the beautiful Dometop Community Garden.
Owing to circumstances that will be familiar to many of my fellow residents, any free entertainment is immediately an engaging offer, one in this case that I couldn't refuse so I immediately made a reservation for two by phone. Pre-event publicity stated that while seats aboard the bus were limited to space on hand residents had the option to choose taking a self-guided tour by car or bicycle.
Above: Keeping an eye on the Galluci Learning Garden at the intersection of South 14th & G Streets, this exotic visitor and non-native species member catches a few more warm summer rays.
First and foremost, had I not I would not have been treated to the warm and generous hospitality offered by gardeners at several locations to those of us who had registered to ride on the Art Bus including a taste of some of this year's crop and coffee, cake and cookies at a garden manned by volunteers at the University Place Community Garden many of whom belong to the Tacoma Narrows Rotary.
Above: Touring the new Lakewood Community Garden.
Thirdly, by missing the tour I would not have enjoyed the delightful company of some other thirty-something other area men, women and children some of whom were gardeners directly from the Community Garden programs as well as the bright, refreshing and entertaining commentary by Art Bus "Celebrity Tour Guide for the Day", the veteran newspaperwoman and recently retired TNT staff writer, Kathleen Merryman.
Above: Two handsome and comfortable benches at McCarver School/Zinna Linnik Memorial Community Garden are dedicated in the memory of the school-age Linnik and an older, much loved community garden volunteer. They provide a place for gardeners to briefly rest and or take-in full the fruit of their labors.
Other community gardens included on the tour were: Swan Creek Community Garden in Salishan, Lakewood Community Garden, , the McCarver School/Zinna Linnik Memorial Community Garden on Hilltop, and Charlotte's Blueberry Farm owned by Metro Parks.
Above: A small slice of just what's growing in the Salishan neighboorhood.