Garden of Eatin'

How Phil Nabity transformed a trashy utility easement into an inner-city ribbon of produce

And out there, in the stillness, he thinks a lot, and if any of those thoughts include a girl, he does not say. He does say he ponders the tension between humans and Planet Earth. "Earth is gonna get pissed off," he says. "And if man doesn't get his act together, it's gonna cause turmoil."

And heaven knows there is already enough turmoil going on back there in Nabity's garden. Kids with nothing better to do sometimes wreak agricultural havoc. "It's pretty depressing to have tomatoes this high," says one neighbor, her hand indicating a height of about four feet, "and then have some kid come along and totally rip it out."

So some wonder if advertising the garden's existence might be a bad thing, whether it might attract unwanted foot traffic and undesirable elements. But Tower West is a neighborhood, Nabity says, where people care; petitions for speed bumps circulate without a hitch and folks park their extra cars in the driveways of people who are gone on vacation. As long as things are that way, he plans to stick around, chief engineer of his alleyway project.

"There's thousands of these easements through the city," he says, "and I've always wondered why nobody does anything with them.

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