"We have a Sichuan Pepper Tree. Have you ever tasted one? It makes your mouth go numb." Lileng, my tour guide to the Empty Common Community Garden picked off a tiny pepper and handed it to me. Once you bite down on the seed it releases a citrusy flavor and gradually a slight, pleasant numbness to your lips and mouth.
This was my second visit to this garden located in Cambridge, England. On my first visit 4 years ago there weren't any gardeners around so this time I was happy to find several gardeners present. They were working on building a hut where gardeners could meet protected from the rain and cold. Charlotte, Lileng and Callum were anchoring the sill to the concrete block foundation. When I inquired about funding for the hut Charlotte told me, "We got grants from Cambridge City Council, The National Lottery via Transition Network, we are a part of Transition Cambridge and the Co-op Community Fund which the co-op shops donate to local causes."
Lileng, Callum and Charlotte
The garden has matured a bit since my last visit. It was started in 2013, so some of the trees are maturing and the perennial plantings are becoming well established. An herb spiral is one of the focal points of the garden and spot to fly the Earth flag.
The plantings surrounding a semicircular log seating area are filling in nicely. Even though I visited after the peak growing season it was a bright sunny day and the beauty in the garden was everywhere.
This garden is a wonderful example of all that a community garden can be. A common ground for people to meet and share ideas and share the effort of improving the land we inhabit. The gardeners use of permaculture techniques makes sure there is habitat for creatures both large and small while providing food for the gardener's bodies and souls.