Several weeks ago we planted 12 tomato plants and some arugula seeds in the neglected front yard of the house next door to us. The house has been abandoned for about 4 years and is in severe disrepair. The planting led to lots of tomatoes and beautiful arugula which we have enjoyed and shared with neighbors and passer byes, connecting with an elementary school and having a class of first graders visit our home garden, meeting a group of people working on a large teaching garden just out our back door and numerous other encounters.
Today I came home to find a man just finishing removing all of the food growing next door to us. After pausing I got out of the car and went to shake the mans hand who had just pulled all the plants out of the garden. He started apologizing. He explained that his boss who owned the property had demanded against his protest that he remove the food. As we talked he explained that he had carefully removed all of the tomato plants and put them in bags on our front stoop. The tomato plants are temporarily in pots safe and watered and waiting to be replanted.
Of course we knew that this was a possibility but the event has left me very confused. How is it that planting food and rehabilitating the tiny patch of soil in front of a crumbling house could be anything but positive? Tonight I pause, tomorrow I will try to contact the owner of the property, confer with neighbors and figure out the best way to proceed.