Spring spirit

I am so high on spring. I can’t sleep. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking things like: “I should build a goat pen in the lot” or “tomorrow I need to plant some corn”. My To Do list is long and includes actions that are so physically challenging, I would die if I actually did them all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining—I love this springtime high. And I know I’m not alone. Proof came on Friday when I attended the Compost Giveaway in Berkeley. Every last Friday of the month the City of Berkeley gives away whole pick-ups full of rich, dark, lovely finished compost. All you do is bring your truck, wait in line, and then get a scoop of soil from a bulldozer.
guyinchargeandtrucksI arrived at 8:45 and so did everyone else. Truck after truck after truck, all in a line. Even my friend Willow arrived in her big red bomber truck. First we talked on the phone, then we realized the line was moving very slowly. She came over to my truck. “I’ve never seen so many people here!” she said. The guy in the khakis and buttondown shirt managing the people told us he had never seen anything like the line before either. The fat, cigarette smoking cop looked like he was going to have a heart attack. Did he expect a riot?

I realized that this pack of compost hungry people was tangible evidence of a.) spring and b.) the huge increase in gardening, perhaps during a recession. There were ghetto trucks (mine), sleek trucks with Biblical verse written on it, and rental trucks. There were young people and old people, a guy wearing overalls and a matching child wearing overalls. There were community gardeners, professional landscapers, scroungers, and urban farmers. Everyone likes free soil.
If you didn’t have a truck, there were two smaller piles of compost and wood chips off to the side for people who couldn’t take a load from the bulldozer. These people had shovels and buckets and galvanized laundry buckets, and other weird receptacles to scoop up the black gold. I loved seeing the enthusiasm of all these people. Working so hard so that their plants would thrive. I wondered what their gardens looked like, what they were growing, how they grow stuff. Seeing the people swarming around these piles made me so proud of us. Us humans. We do so many horrible things, but when we garden, we are beautiful.


In the end, I waited about 40 minutes to get my free soil. Was it worth it? I can’t say just by looking at it, but the soil looks beautiful. It comes from the green bins, municipal compost picked up in the East Bay, turned into compost, and then returned to the people. What a lovely cycle.

Thanks for the tip Oliver!

-Every last Friday of the month is free compost give away at the Berkeley Marina, near the Adventure Playground on the South side of the marina.

7 responses to “Spring spirit

  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. Novella! This is sooo exciting–I didn’t know the compost giveaway existed. I’m getting me some pronto for my garden!!!! Thank you for sharing, as you always do.

  3. Great post. I love spring too. Duh, I guess? Who doesn’t?
    We just went and picked up a free load of Man-dirt this weekend from the local sewer district. NOT for the veggies, compost for that thank you, but for our lawn and ornamentals.
    I do think the increase is from the recessions gardeners to. I can’t find a problem with more people starting to garden though!

    Peace to you!

  4. OH, I am so jealous! I want a truck and I want free compost!

  5. ghosttownfarm

    jadepark: see you in line!

    wait a minute paul! man dirt! are you freaking kidding me? where do you live? must know more…

    love to daniela! i sent the seeds yesterday…

  6. Yes GhostTown, Man-dirt, humanure, poo-dirt if you will. All acceptable names for the cleaned and composted remains of the municipal sludge that is left after our city water is processed and cleaned. It’s put through strict testing and EPA inspection and the city even provides an information pamphlet with the info on macro and micro-nutrients. The only reason I don’t use it on my food crops is for purely personal reasons. Honestly, I just have a mental block. Were I to truly be in a bad place and NEED to produce food, I would use it without worry.

    Oh, and I’m in Syracuse Utah. It’s about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City.

  7. Wow! I can’t believe it was so crowded. We’ve gotten free compost there before but there was no line — just a few people with station wagons and pick up trucks and shovels backed up to the pile and shovelling.

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