Posted by: Sam Burke
Honestly, if the Alchemical Garden hadn’t been marked by a large sign, I don’t think I would’ve noticed it while biking on the Clipper City Rail Trail. The garden doesn’t demand immediate attention. It’s a relatively small plot. There’s no fence to define its limits or announce its presence. No huge flowers dominate the scenery. From afar, it looks like a piece of ordinary, neatly kept land. But upon closer examination, Alchemical Garden is anything but.
After we dismounted and locked our bikes, we approached the garden. One section caught my eye right away. Sitting in the grass were two green couches. Intrigued (and always looking for an opportunity to sit down) we swooped down upon them. To our surprise, the couches themselves were made of grass. At first, we tentatively squatted on them, unsure of whether they would hold our weight, and more importantly, if they’d be comfortable. Ten seconds later, we were completely sprawled across them, draping our arms and legs in various places, like we would have done in the comfort of our own home. And ten seconds after that, all five of us had closed our eyes. And ten seconds after that, I was in a different state of consciousness.
And that’s how Erin Stack – the creator/main gardener of Alchemical Garden – found us. Normally, most people would’ve been weirded out by five college students asleep in their garden. I’m pretty sure most people would’ve asked us to leave.
Not Erin Stack.
She was overjoyed to see us utilizing the space in that way. Outside. Alive. Breathing.
And so we continued the rest of our morning in a similar manner. We stayed outside, we felt alive, and we breathed. We raked, mulched, and planted. It was completely and totally relaxing. We dug our bare feet into the earth and weeded without gloves. I even got to water the grass couches.
Erin also gave us an overview and tour of the garden. Alchemical Garden roots itself in permaculture, which prides itself on sustainable land use design. Permaculture uses patterns that occur in nature to encourage growth and minimize wasted energy. Vegetables intermingle with fruits, which intermingle with flowers, which intermingle with vegetables, no fighting over the soil but instead existing in harmony. The design and thought process behind the Alchemical Garden was fascinating to learn, and I will let Erin do it real justice (because I’m pretty sure she’s writing a guest blog soon).
Ultimately, Mass Acceleration’s real treat was sitting down to lunch with Erin. We munched on a salad where everything – really, everything – had been organically grown within a five mile radius of our picnic bench. If that’s not harmony, I don’t know what is.