In February of 2009, older and younger vets came together in San Diego with community allies for a weekend of nonviolence training. As the culmination, there were asked to use Dr. King’s planning guide to design a nonviolent action or project.
Dave Patterson’s group seized on the idea of providing small, personal, sustainable peace gardens throughout the community. They laid out tasks and a timeline, materials and tools required, likely allies and critics, costs and their assignments and meeting times.
Following the CCP training, they continued to meet, work and invite others to join them. They created a garden design that would be easy to build and found inexpensive materials that were available and suitable. They practiced building the gardens and testing the design. They researched protection against hungry deer and local pests.
The result? They developed a way to install a garden with three people in less than an hour. The cost per garden was only $35. Their materials were straw wattle, deer netting, a few rocks, 11 stakes, clean fill dirt and some top soil. They had no pest problems. They sought volunteers to start vegetable seedlings in people’s garages and sheds and to build more gardens. Some promoted the peace garden project in the community -- talking to the senior center, writing feature articles for the newspaper, and collaborating with local garden and water conservation groups.
Dave Patterson expressed the group’s conviction: “Small sustainable gardens in every yard should be the push in every community. With the potential of an economic meltdown and possible interruptions of food supply it is more important than ever that personal gardens are growing food that we need. The greatest chance of success of any project is one where there is personal ownership, and the Sustainable Personal Gardens come in. We… have been working to develop an inexpensive and easily installed garden that most people can manage, even the elderly.”
The San Diego Earth Fair, which expected 70,000 visitors, invited the Peace Garden to be a centerpiece of its demonstration garden display. More volunteers came forward to build the display and to talk with the public -- and to promote “Creating a Culture of Peace” training, too.
Afterward, Dave Patterson reported that the Veterans’ Peace Garden group is more of a true community. “There used to be many conflicts among them,” he said, “but now they are very different individuals, caring for each other and enjoying working together.” It surprises and excites him. He believes that, in these hard times, planning more personal, sustainable, peace gardens can help us sustain ourselves and our communities.
To see photos and learn how to build the peace garden, go to: www.ramonaforum.org/reports/