June 16, 2009

Roomanski Gardens: A vision in the making.

The seeds were planted as my sister and I took over our father's gardens for a few weekends late last fall. Our goal, prepare the gardens for winter. I say gardens because there are two rather large areas that total anywhere from 4-5,000 square feet. We have two pear trees, two plum trees, three or four apple trees, two varieties of raspberries and blueberries.

We began digging things up that hadn't been moved in years, we pulled out post that previously held up beans and we emptied and moved the compost piles. Then the monster rototiller came out. Our wonderful neighbor came over, pushed us out of the way, and took over the battle of maneuvering "the beast" around the gardens 3 or 4 times. He has been helping my dad for years and made a comment how much easier "the beast" handled without the obstacle course.

Cover crop planted my sister and I began discussing the idea of planting extra and making it available to our neighbors. We were simply brainstorming and dreaming about gardens that produced enough food for several households. Little did we know our parents were going to announce our hair brained idea to the neighbors the next day at a luncheon. The response was immediate and favorable. Many of them are retired and loved the idea of having my son bring them fresh vegetables from the garden.

Holy cow, it was just an idea we were germinating. There was no business plan for crying out loud. I am already committed to my yoga studio and the Mindful Intent newsletter I couldn't possibly start another business. So we just decided to see how much grew and when there was enough we would send my son Brennan door to door. I began having conversations about selling veggies to the neighbors as a way to make some money for college. Yes I know he is only 6 (5 at the time) but I just don't think it's ever too early to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. Was he hearing what I was saying, or was he simply thinking about STAR WARS and light sabers? Turns out, it was both.

Last Saturday it happened. I was at the sink doing dishes and my son came in and said "Mom I think it's time to pick the spinach. I want to sell some." I finished up and we went out to the garden, bags and scissors in hand. He held the bags while I cut and loaded. We filled three bags and decided that was enough. Brennan was ready to go door to door. I asked him how much he planned on selling them for, his response "$8". He wanted to buy...guess what...a new light saber. I told him $8 might be too much. He wondered if maybe $3 per bag was enough. I simply looked at him and he decided he would leave it up to the neighbors to decide. I thought that was a good strategy.

I suggested some role playing like his drama class in school. I instructed him to pretend I was a neighbor and to knock on my door. When I answered the door he asked me "would you like some spinach?". I said yes took a bag and closed the pretend door. He tried again, said the same thing and I took two bags and closed the door. At this point he is frustrated but laughing and said he would like to try again. I opened the pretend door and he said "Would you like to buy some spinach?". I asked him how much and he responded "whatever you think it is worth". He made his first dollar as an entrepreneur that day knocking on 8 doors. One person said no and the next happily bought a bag and the rest were gone for the day. He was thrilled with his new found wealth. He skipped on over to the neighbors and gave his buddy Allen (our neighbor that helps turn our soil, he is a gem) and then said the last bag was for his Nani and our dinner.

With a total of $6 burning a hole in his wallet, Brennan was dying to spend some. He attached his wallet to his belt (Luke Skywalker style) and we headed to Blockbusters for movies. He got cold feet once at the counter and said "I changed my mind you can buy." No way, I wasn't going to let him go back on his word of renting his own movie. Once outside he decided he wanted candy and would I get him some. I said "No, I'm not going to buy toxic waste. If you want it, you buy it." He took forever picking something out, and yes it was blue. It said real fruit juice...but toxic, tooth rotting nonetheless.

Brennan was sporting a funny look, then I noticed the concern. He wanted to know how much of his precious wealth was remaining. When I explained that he spent almost half of his money he said "I think I'm going to save at least half of everything I earn this summer." Music to my ears and a lesson learned about choices.

I've been coaxing Brennan into harvesting some more veggies. He doesn't seem to hear and then the other night he watered all on his own with me giving instruction and help guiding the hose. We were out until 9pm. I asked him how much he thought he should be paid for being such a good helper. He said he wanted one of those shiny dollar coins and we agreed.

This morning we got a text message order for some rhubarb. I picked it before leaving the house with instructions for Brennan to weigh and price. He made another $5. There is more spinach and now Swiss chard ready to be picked and delivered.

Don't be surprised if next year you see a sign at the corner of Roosevelt and Semanski announcing "ROOMANSKI GARDENS - heirloom tomatoes, starts, and fresh produce". I have someone coming by today to give an estimate on the cost to remove a 1,500+/- sq ft concrete slab. I am making plans to add more blueberries, raspberries and a new green house for my dad.

We have an old shed that would make an excellent chicken coop. It's just an idea that is germinating it might take root it might not. I like to have plans and to think about the future. I also know it's important to realize the plan can change at any moment. I don't get attached or overly worried. If it's meant to be then it will happen. I'll just coax it along.

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