America prides itself on being a melting pot, and my community garden is a tiny subset of that diversity. You can see it in the gardeners, and in what they grow.

Jose grows tomatoes, peppers and cilantro…and last year, some papaya. Bonnie, an Army officer, plants okra, a reflection of her southern roots. Brad, the “mayor” of our corner of the garden, has netted his berry bushes to keep the birds away from the precious fruit. Then there are the Jamaican women who weed their patch – planted wall to wall with fiery scotch bonnet peppers – with machetes. I kid you not.

Some gardeners tend their small square of earth with the devotion to detail that you find in English cottage gardens. Sally has rimmed her garden with rocks and planted flowers in the four corners. Her vegetables were sown straight and true with the help of bright red yarn stretched across the rows. A few plots over, Debbie has stationed a tall arch covered with flowering vines and placed raised beds at artful angles. Another gardener has placed a piece of iron sculpture amid the vegetables. (Attention Chris: add this to the list of focal points needed)

We have shared herbs and garlic and zucchini with our fellow gardeners, traded tips for keeping the evil Mexican beetles at bay, and bemoaned the lack of rain, or too much rain.

flagTo borrow a phrase from the Declaration of Independence, all gardeners are created equal — at least in our little corner of Chinquapin. Happy Fourth of July!

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.