What happens when a massive flood destroys a beloved garden? Is it possible to rebuild? What if you do repair everything and it happens again?
This is the story of how Joan Gussow’s garden was totally wiped out by a massive flood and how it was rebuilt to withstand future disasters.
I first confessed my crush on Joan Gussow a few years ago. It’s only increased since then. This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader and Growing, Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables are two of my favourite books.
Her work touches topics I think about a lot: the critical importance of local food, the environment, climate change, belonging, growing older.
In 2010, Joan’s garden was destroyed by a flood. It wasn’t the first flood but it was the largest by far, and left her garden in ruins.
It’s one thing to start over from a single freak storm, but, knowing it may and probably will happen again, makes it self-defeating (or fulfills the definition of insanity) to rebuild under the same conditions.
Knowing the yard was several feet too low, there was only one logical but expensive and labour-intensive solution.
Raise it up.
And they did!
People rallied: donations and help arrived. The entire garden was cleared and they added masses of soil to raise the garden up high enough to withstand future storms. It was a momentous task and I have no doubt there was some real heartbreak at the start, but the results are brilliant. This short film shows the whole process with details provided by Joan herself:
Amazing recovery, isn’t it? I really love this story. I took tremendous work and fortitude but it was totally worth it.
This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Gussow
Growing Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables by Joan Gussow