Sunday, April 30, 2017

Selling the Orchard

FROG HOSPITAL  -- April 29, 2017  -- By Fred Owens
I accidentally deleted last week's issue of Frog Hospital  -- a thousand words, several hours of work, gone in a flash, gone forever  -- those stirring words, those soul-enriching phrases  -- I was stunned -- but, as friends told me later, maybe it wasn't meant to be -- maybe no one really wants to hear about "Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante" -- okay, that reference was a little obscure  -- anyway, it's over, and we start fresh today.
Selling the Orchard
I have to mention Trump by name in order to say that I have been ignoring him.... I looked at the front page of the NYTimes on the Internet this morning.... There was Trump news all over the place .... I scanned the headlines but skipped the stories.....
My strategy is to pay attention to local issues .... the new gas tax in California for instance .... Are they really going to use it to fix the roads?
In Santa Barbara we have disturbing news .... The Mesa Harmony Garden might be sold -- at least there have been inquiries if not offers. The Mesa Harmony Garden is almost one acre in size, with more than 100 fruit trees.... It has been labor of community love for seven years ... To build and grow what we hoped to be a long-term project on Holy Cross church property.  But the parish is losing $10,000 a month, according to Father Rafael, and the orchard property must be sold to cover the deficit.
There will be objections and organized opposition to the sale of the orchard. After all, this is Santa Barbara and nothing gets built here without a prolonged struggle.
Personally, I lack the stamina for this struggle.... I accept the loss of the fruit trees. I will plant new trees elsewhere. It always was a movable feast.
The sale, or the possibility of a sale ..... This could drag on for years... A good bet is that the orchard will still be here five years from now .... Maybe the church should start having Bingo Night to cover the deficit, whatever it takes to fill those pews..... instead of selling property.
But, no more of jesting. If you want to save the orchard, be ready to write a large check. The property is worth way more than $1 million. The real estate market in Santa Barbara is very hot. A savvy developer could put in one high-end residence, and several lower-income units. The savvy developer might even promise not to cut down all the fruit trees.
Honestly, I've stood in front of the bulldozer before. I've signed the petition. I've gone to the meetings. I have no stomach for this. I am not angry at Father Rafael and I do not envy his position. He will be unpopular no matter what he does. He is over 70 in age and looking to retirement which is mandatory at age 75. Being pastor of Holy Cross church is probably his last assignment. Selling property to cover operating expenses  -- he didn't study for years in the seminary for jobs like this. He's a good man.
Overall, to use a word that Trump uses, I'm a big fan of the Catholic Church. They operate countless schools, hospitals and universities throughout the world. They do more good than harm. The Church is the largest and oldest institution on earth without a military force. They can't start a war, although they can take sides once the war starts.
And let's hear it for Pope Francis. It took courage and daring to make a journey to Egypt. My heart goes out to him.
Back to the orchard  -- seven years of work, one hundred trees, a state of the art drip irrigation system, some thousands of hours of volunteer time spreading mulch, pruning, digging  -- all that work. You let people plant trees on your property and they get attached.
I know. I work as a gardener on other people's property. I plant trees for them  -- I plant their trees on their property. I don't get attached, but I get paid and that makes it fair. Okay, all right, I get a little attached to the trees I just planted. But you gotta let it go to let it grow.
Mesa Harmony Garden -- I stick with the promise of the word in the middle -- Harmony, which is our highest purpose. How can we maintain the harmony that makes the orchard so beautiful? We start harvesting peaches in two weeks.
thank you,

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

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