Monday, July 7, 2008

The Seeds of John Carroll

There may not have been a community garden in the Stoneybrook neighborhood of Jamaica Plain if it had not been for the initiative of the late John Carroll, a dear friend to many of us.  Instead, this neighborhood of mostly triple-deckers could have become much denser with either more residential units, or even another stable housing seventy horses!  Of course, the gardens were the result of the efforts of many activists and the history is too expansive to outline in this post.  But John Carroll planted the first seeds, and I can not think of a better way to kick off this blog than to share some recent events celebrated in his memory.

John lost his battle with cancer on November 5, 2007, when most of his favorite flowers had wilted or died off, and the deadline for gardeners to put their plots to bed for the winter was looming.  Thus it was decided that a more fitting time to commemorate his life would be around the beginning of summer when the gardens were in full bloom.

Thanks to the oversight of John's sister Dee Miller and the help of friends and other family members, a lovely memorial service held on the morning of June 28 featured remembrances, prayers, poems, and the music of John's favorite artists, the Neville Brothers and Sweet Honey in the Rock.  Later that day, at the first official Minton Stable Garden barbecue of the season, a video loop gave people an opportunity to witness John's efforts and philosophy and glance at what the space looked like before the demolition of the old barn and the introduction of running water.

The highlight of the evening was the dedication of the soon-to-be-constructed sitting area under one of John's favorite trees, which culminated in the spreading of some of John's ashes around that area and along the main path.  Of course, this was also a group effort.  When the box was passed to me, I hesitated at first; I had never before handled cremains, let alone those of a close friend.  But as I tapped the box and the dust went flying in different directions, I realized that this is what John wanted.  It symbolized the seeds that John spread to establish gardens all over JP, making it a more beautiful place.


Bryan said...

Of course the Minton Stables garden will always be special in the memory of all those who attended your wedding there. Were there other events--memorial for John Carroll, wedding of Sally and Steve--in the garden?

Sally said...

There have been many events, too many to recall. Some were personal milestones for the people involved; I'll write about the wedding in a later post. In fact, there's an event tonight: live music by blues musician Lloyd Thayer, starting at 6:30.
Thanks for commenting!

Dale said...

I loved to read your Blog on the Minton Stable Garden and the community that you have developed there. Your aricles are very informational on gardening and weed identification. I just pull them occasionally. I hope to see you sometime when we are out there.