PHOTO ESSAY: New Garden Tower Anchors the GANG Garden

My son Colin Cudmore, inventor of the Garden Tower, said he would give us one of the new gen 2 towers. Great!

So, yesterday, podmate Rebecca and I decided to put together, and then fill with soil and petunias, our new Garden Tower. After thinking long and hard about just where to place it, we decided that it could beautifully anchor the DeKist/Overhill corner outside the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden (GANG) of our little two-house Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage pod.

Rebecca had already built a sweet little rock wall with plants behind it. The Tower could go behind that.


Interesting that even before we started the job, neighbor Melissa happened to come by. She decided to stay and help set it up.


Far cry from the wall that used to be there — with a beautiful student designed and made cob oven behind it; unfortunately, the wall kept the garden hidden from view, and felt almost forbidding from the outside — though we didn’t realize its effect back then. That’s a looooong story. Don’t want to go into it now. But wouldn’t you know, neighbor Dave, who cruised around the corner as we were working yesterday afternoon, reminded me that the cob oven was also an anchor for the garden. “You would bring that up!” I laughed. “I’m the kind of guy that remembers,” he rejoined, grinning.

The reason I don’t want to bring it up is because it is a story of what I call Integrating the Shadow of the Garden, and the extended story is on this blog, but you have to go back to November 2011 to find it.

Briefly: The wall was constructed during the Garden’s first year, 2009, during a workshop demonstrating how to build a ferrocement wall. In 2011 an IU- SPEA student-run project designed and built a cob oven behind it, which we planned to fire up on rare celebratory occasions, for pizza.

Here’s the oven, from inside the garden.

cob-oven-intact1 That plan got axed, with the very first firing, due to a disgruntled neighbor. Five months then went by, while I tried to integrate both the neighbor’s unneighborly attitude and the fact that the city had told us that we had to tear down both the wall and the cob oven!

Finally, we did, in a Ceremony of Impermanence, with a tiny firing, a story circle, and a dozen people each taking three ritual whacks. Here’s Kim, taking her turn:


That was in late 2011. For the next two years, the evolution of the garden was mostly at a standstill, while I personally worked through the grief and disappointment that had erupted inside me during that entire difficult year.

Then In September 2013 Rebecca arrived, and took charge of the garden. YES!

It’s interesting to me that the wall had kept people from connecting, even though one of the main intents for the GANG garden is to build community connections. Doubly interesting, because, by way of contrast, as we were putting up the Garden Tower, besides Melissa, two other neighbors also stopped by.

neighbor one


With the Garden Tower planted, now it was time to water it, which I asked to do myself. But not without Rebecca’s admonition:


“Don’t get too forceful! Do it from farther away, so that it comes down like rain.”



It will be interesting to discover how the new Garden Tower anchor inspires community connections this summer as its petunias spread out and droop. Hopefully, each time someone comes by, they will absorb its heart-lifting beauty!


P.S. Notice the solar panels on the DeKist house in background. 32 of them, 16 each for DeKist and Overhill houses.

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