A member of this group sent me a message that I hope to be allowed to address here in case others who read it perceived the same issue. In my previous post, I asked how to equitably work out a shared garden. In that post, I also mentioned that I'd planned on contacting a local group that works with my small town's immigrant population to see if there is a family there who would like the use of a garden plot.
The reader who contacted me wrote, "Do you have any idea just how raciest [sic] that post of yours sounds..I think not. Let's put it this way. If you were poor and in a foreign country, trying hard to make ends meet etc.. would you want to go work for someone who wasn't going to pay you, expected you to do all the actual hard work, and for the privilege of working in their garden for x hours a day, they'd give you half of what you grew? While they did nothing, and took half of everything. Ever hear of share croppers?! And what the heck makes you think, that just because they're immigrants, they just stepped off the farm? There are cities elsewhere in the world, in fact urban white-collar workers are more likely able to afford the money to come to America legally. "
After I cleared the steam from my ears and got my jaw up from where it was wedged into my chest, I made myself look at what I wrote from his/her perspective, and I can see where it might be possible to get the wrong impression if you did not read my post with extreme care.
So please allow me to publicly clarify.
First, the primary reason I posted was to ask for help in figuring out what IS an equitable way to do garden sharing, regardless of with whom I share that garden. I suggested one possible solution -- I pay for every single expense, the person sharing the garden does the majority of the work, and I take a share of the results. I asked for feedback on that, to see if it did in fact seem equitable.
Once I determine an equitable way to do this, my next step is to find someone to do this with me.
My tiny little town, set in the middle of a rural county, has two primary groups of people in it: Middle class to upper-middle-class folks who already have houses with yards large enough to do their own gardening, and low-income immigrants (primary from Guatemala) who primarily live in crowded run-down apartments with no space to garden. Our small town (in fact our entire county, as far as I know) has no community garden space.
I know from my next door neighbor who is a Guatemalan immigrant, from my spouse who is Hispanic and who works with many of our town’s Hispanic residents, and from official demographic studies of my town’s Hispanic residents, that a large portion of these neighbors are in fact fairly recent immigrants from areas where most families did some measure of farming. And even if they did not come from farming areas, why should I assume that they would have no interest in a garden of their own? My ONLY goal was to look first among the folks who might want and need the garden space the most: Those who live in homes with no space to garden.
And to answer the question asked of me: Immigrant or not, if I were working-poor and living somewhere that I was not able to grow any of my own food, and living in an economy where the prices of food and everything else had risen dramatically in the past year – then I would very much appreciate an EQUITABLE way to use someone else’s land, water, tools, and soil amendments (both what they purchase and the compost that they make), and have them pay the up-front and suddenly this year MUCH more expensive cost of seeds and plants, in exchange for their taking a share of the crop.
If others perceived what I wrote as racist, I truly apologize. I hope you are able to now understand that my plan is simply to figure out a truly equitable way to do this, then look for someone to do this, starting by looking in the community where there is without question the most need for garden space in MY particular tiny town.
Thank you for allowing me to explain myself.
Edited to add: If I were to just offer someone the land to garden, I would expect that they would supply their own tools, seeds, plants, amendments, and labor, and pay me at least something for the water. I am NOT trying to undervalue labor, I just honestly don't know what's reasonable and fair. I am not "elderly " though I am eligible for AARP and caring for my grandchildren. But... why do these things matter? Whether I'm 90 or 19, I just want something that is fair to me AND to someone with whom I share a garden.
Edited again to add: Those of you from the Snark community who have nothing better to do with your time than to get all ridiculously indignant about "privileged white woman who wants to hire wetbacks for slave labor," get a freakin' life. You accuse ME of making assumptions? How about your assumption that I'm white?!? How about your assumption that I"m privileged? Though I AM blessed to own a home and have a good job, I'm not remotely "privileged" from your derogatory sense of the word. And anyone who would use racist language like you're using would be banned from my home. Get a freakin' life -- or better yet, GROW A GARDEN. Volunteer with the local empoverished communities. Do something better with your time than be mean and ugly. Geesh.