Squash: One of the joys of community journalism

Posted on 19. Jul, 2012 by

A recent story I did about the community garden at the Methodist Church in Chico is a good example of why I love small-town, community journalism.

Ray Rankin, my primary source on the story, is one of the best gardeners I’ve ever met — and I’ve met several. I’m in awe of his knowledge of when to plant, what variety, how to space them, how much water they need, how much sunlight they need, etc. But since the church’s garden was not planted yet, I invited myself to his house so I could get a photo of him with something besides empty raised beds.

He and Brenda not only welcomed me to their home and beautiful yard for a photo session (she declined, happy for him to get all the ink) but when I left, they loaded me down with fresh tomatoes, squash, cucumbers and onions, a couple of plants in pots, and a jar of Ray’s chow-chow. They were so gracious I wanted my wife to meet them, so we grabbed a couple of things for them and headed that way on a recent Saturday.

We were greeted like old friends, but after an enjoyable visit and a garden tour, we are still in their debt. We left with more tomatoes, another plant and a jar of Ray’s home-grown, homemade chipotle powder (with a warning to use with caution).

When we go back to see them, maybe I’ll take some more compost, or make them a birdhouse. But I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to get ahead of Ray and Brenda on this gift-giving thing. Maybe that’s how you know someone has crossed over from “story” to “friend” — you stop keeping up with who owes who.

They say in a big city, you lock your car so people won’t steal stuff out of it. In a small town, you lock your car so people won’t put bags of squash in it. That’s why I live in a small town, and why I like being a small-town journalist.

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