Green Acres


dequan_icon.gif jim_icon.gif niki_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif sue_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

eleanor_icon.gif jonah_icon.gif

Scene Title Green Acres
Synopsis To help combat the ongoing food shortages the Safe Zone cooperative works on expanding their gardens, and enlists the help of local volunteers.
Date August 16, 2018

The dog days of August are usually hotter than this, but after the heat wave of the last few weeks, a few days of gloomy and overcast conditions are a welcome respite. With the thermostats not even breaking 80 degrees today and a drizzling rain intermittently falling from the skies, most residents of the Safe Zone have chosen to make their way indoors. That isn’t any different on the southwestern coast of Red Hook, where the walled compound of the Red Hook Market borders the East River.

The enormous double doors that lead into the market hang open, string lights are hung across the arch of the doorway, and hundreds of customers are sheltered under the cover of the indoor bazaar from the inclement weather. But outside those brick walls, away from the smell of old books and damp stone, others have resolved to stay outdoors against the coming rain. Beyond the box trucks and shipping containers, past the asphalt and where the ground of the Red Hook Market’s parking area turns into a muddy lot, enormous sacks of loam and soil are stacked up in a fifteen foot high wall between stone and earth.

Here, rows of rakes, shovels, hoes, and trowels are piled up — many of them rusted or otherwise in disrepair — beside stacks of repurposed bricks and recycled wooden timbers. A handful of volunteers stand out in the mud, digging into the vacant lot to make way for something new, something better for the Safe Zone: a garden.

Sue Gandry, member of the Safe Zone Cooperative and longtime New York Resident is among those braving the rain to work in the mud. Her boots are caked in the brownish-red clay-heavy earth, splattered up the rolled cuffs of her denim overalls and speckling bare shoulders. Wiping her forearm across her brow, Sue drives the head of her shovel into the ground again and heaps a pile of soft earth away. The volunteers are working to dig deep enough that they can fill the lot with planting soil and loam, to build up a sturdy base for the garden to come. With the food shortages as they are, gardens like these could mean the difference between a full stomach and an empty one.

The rain is a welcome respite from the heat for Niki Zimmerman, only too happy to be out in the mud in her rubber boots and a raincoat that’s seen far better days. She heaps another shovelful of dirt onto a growing pile nearby and chuckles softly, lamenting, “This would have been way easier with super strength.” Days like this, tasks like this, is when she misses her original power. But the one she has now does keep the chill of the rain from seeping into her bones. So that’s something.

As difficult as it may have been to coax people out in this weather, she suspects the heat would have been more difficult. Niki snapped up the chance to be productive. Scrapping in this weather is miserable, so she’d much rather be playing in the mud, so to speak.

It has only been a few days since Dequan has started moving pieces of his life to his new city, but every morning there has been a jog…getting the lay of the land. He’s passed through and by the market on more than one occasion but today, he ventures further past the box trucks and shipping containers at the sound of shovels and the smell of wet earth.

Dressed in a pair of fitted dark jeans and a dark green t-shirt that fits over certain bumps and swells like it is a size too small but is otherwise comfortable, Dequan has tossed on dark green hoodie and pulled up the hood as he stands on the edge of the parking lot, watching quietly for a few moments and pushing his hood back, not minding the rain drizzling on his long hair which has been braided back out of his face in a single braid today and on his skin. Unfolding his arms he begins to make his way towards the volunteers, pushing up his sleeves.

“Look, unless you want me to throw a tomato at you, let’s not talk about whose ability is more helpful at the moment.” Sue playfully jabs, reaching up to draw her hair back behind her head, slipping an elastic off of her wrist to hold it in place. As she spots Dequan coming over from between the trucks, she offers a sidelong look to Niki and then starts making her way over to greet the unfamiliar face.

Her attention on Dequan is assessing, brows pinched together for a moment in thought before she’s within conversational range. “If you’re looking for something to trade, that’s the other way around,” Sue notes with a motion toward the central building of the market, “the only thing we’ve got out here is dirt, sweat, and an umbrella shortage.” The greeting is a tongue-in-cheek one, and comes as she’s scrubbing mud off of the heel of her palm onto her overalls, then offering the mostly clean hand out to Dequan in greeting.

“Sue Gandry, Co-op. You come here t’help dig?” Sue asks. “Because between the handful of us here, we really could use another hand.”

Niki grins wide at Sue’s rejoinder. “I’ll just roast it,” she fires back. Whatever she was about to say next is forgotten at the stranger’s approach. The shovel is struck into the ground hard to keep it standing as she jogs up behind.

Folding her arms across her chest, Niki is conscious of not letting her eyes narrow on the newcomer. Her intention isn’t to look intimidating, after all. They’re looking for more volunteers. Her gaze flits between Dequan and Sue briefly. She offers a smile.

Speaking of volunteers, news of the operation has spread, and Peyton Whitney is always looking for an opportunity to educate her child on the merits of community service. She enters the garden, looking around, before her smile broadens when she sees Niki. The slim brunette carries a box of equipment as well — gloves, spades, and other gardening items — while the small boy at her side carries a rake in one hand and a shovel in the other, because he insisted on helping.

Of course helping means he has to stop every few feet to rearrange his grip on the two large objects, which means Peyton has to wait, which means the box is getting heavier by the minute.

“Niki, just the woman I need,” she calls out, eager to thrust the heavy box at the woman much better at carrying large objects than she is. “We’ve come to help.” There’s a smirk at that — she knows Jonah might be as much of a distraction as a helper.

A minute or so after Peyton and Jonah show up, someone else does, too! It’s a Jim, to be precise. He’s far enough away that they clearly didn’t come together, but he does enter from the same general direction. He has brought a shovel, but other than that it’s just himself, so hopefully that’s enough.

Once he gets close, he lifts a hand to those assembled, an easy smile resting on his face. “Hey,” he says, turning to encompass all those already here. “Need some more help?” He’s at least dressed for it, though he’s probably a little damper than he expected to be, and he reaches up to rub some of the water from his face.

Dequan looks behind him and then back to the approaching Sue and Niki when the question about trading is mentioned and he chuckles slowly with a shake of his head. “What if I happened to be in the market for a little bit of dirt, sweat and exposure to the elements?” He speaks in the soft and low, warm tones of New Orleans and the sharpened ever so slightly but the crisp corners of the southern Gulf coast.

The tall man just bows his head politely and reaches out to take the offered hand from Sue, shaking it firmly. “Dequan Silvercreek. Just a lil’ new in town. Had I known you all were having a party, I would’ve brought something to help out.” He looks around as more people are gathering.

“Not much of a party,” Sue admits as she shifts her weight to one foot and rests her hands on her hips. “Nice to meet you Mister Silvercreek,” there’s a quick look fired to the other newcomers and a warm smile that comes along with it. She wasn’t expecting so many volunteers today, especially with the rain, and briefly firing a look back at Niki, Sue’s spirits seem to have been lifted. “We’re trying to dig up this lot for another garden. Given that we’re still rationing food, we need as much arable space as we can use. Some folks tried robbing the Memorial Garden,” she nods east out of the market grounds, “so we thought being behind these walls could be better.”

With another look to Jim, Sue raises one hand and gives a brief one moment look to Dequan. “Sue Gandry,” she introduces with an offered hand, “that there’s Niki Zimmerman,” a motion to the blonde behind her in the yard, “and if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty we really could use a couple other hands tearing up this lot so we can lay down proper soil.” As she makes her introduction, and likely due to both a byproduct of the rain and her enlivened mood, a small sprig of green plantlife winds its way through Sue’s blonde hair above her right ear, plumping into a bud and then unfolding into a purple and yellow flower. She side-eyes the growth, then grimaces awkwardly.

“Sorry about that, I uh,” Sue flashes an awkward smile, “I’ll take root if I’m not careful.”

“Peyton!” The box is handed off and Niki has to adjust her grip a moment, but she has it well in hand. “Happy to help.” She offers a wink to Jonah in lieu of ruffling his hair. “Hey, buddy. Glad you’re here to help us out!”

The box is hauled over to the edge of the yard, settled into the grass and nudged under a laid out square of tarp to keep the worst of the rain from seeping in. “Nice to meet you all,” Niki greets warmly. “If you’re willing to help us out, we’d be happy to have you.”

“Happy to help. And Jonah’s great at digging,” Peyton says, with a smile over at the little boy, his yellow raincoated figure following Niki so he can rest the rake and shovel against the other supplies. He turns just in time to see the display of Sue’s power, his dark brown eyes widening and a broad smile blooming across his face — displaying two missing lower teeth, the smile of a first-grader.

“Whoa, Mom! Did you see that?” Jonah looks to Niki and then Jim and then Dequan, waiting to see if they’re as impressed with the blossoming Sue as he is. But Peyton gives him a small shake of her head.

“Jonah,” is murmured softly, the tone full of light warning. Clearly this is something they’ve discussed before. “Hi, I’m Peyton,” she says in a bright shift, offering her hand to shake to each of the adults she doesn’t know. “This is Jonah. We’ll try to be useful.

“Jim Clark.” Jim reaches forward to shake Sue’s hand, “Nice to meet you, Ms. Gandry. I never mind that.” His smile widens as he steps back, hefting the shovel a little bit with a friendly nod to Niki, and then one to Dequan as well. The other man’s words get a little more of a considering look — or maybe it’s just the man himself, as he continues, “Silvercreek. The Mississippi Silvercreeks?” Of course, one could probably make assumptions just from the accent, but it never hurts to ask.

His attention is caught by the blooming flower, though — yes, Jonah, he saw that — and though he doesn’t look quite as excited as the child, he does look appreciative of it. He gives Jonah a ‘surreptitious’ wink, that really can be seen by anyone who cares to look, then turns to shake Peyton’s hand, too. “Peyton,” he says, “nice to meet you, too.”

It is with a critical eye that Dequan lets his dark gaze sweep over the lot, mentally doing calculations and calling to mind a picture of what the converted lot would look like as a garden when Sue starts the introductions and provides some backstory into why they are out here working in the mud. As each person is introduced or takes time to introduce themselves, the long haired man bows his head respectfully.

“I’ve got family out that way, yeah.” Dequan’s eyebrow raises a fraction as his last name is identified but it should be no surprise and he just gives Jim a chin-up in greeting. “Doing better out that way than they expected with everything settling down again. I get the feeling you’re from a little further north.”

There is one thing that catches Dequan’s attention though, draws it away from his brother from another mother/tribe. He first catches it out of the corner of his eye, as that blossom makes its appearance and his head tilts to the side as his lips part. “I’m just going to figure its the blessing that runs through your veins also being happy to see us out here willing to help.”

It’s rude to stare though, so he just looks at Jonah and mouths ‘wow’ right back to him playfully before bowing a bit to both Peyton and Sue. “Alright, so obviously this brave little warrior here is going to help keep us in line and show us how it's done?” He gestures towards Jonah and winks to Niki as he kneels down to regard Jonah, and solemnly in his deep voice inquires. “Alright, Mister Jonah was it? What do we do first?”

Cracking a smile, Sue is careful to thread a hair around the blossom and it lilts to rest atop one ear. Charmed by all of the introductions, she self-consciously scrubs the dirt off of her hands on the hips of her overalls again. “Blessing’s an interesting word for it, but I'm none too religious,” she notes with a lopsided smile. Assessing Dequan, Sue makes a nod of her head away from the garden. “If you’re new in town and a fan of nature, you should visit Park Slope. No running water or electricity, but it's a small look at what all this could be in time.”

Turning her attention to Peyton, Sue’s smile broadens. “It's lovely to see you again Ms. Whitney,” she notes with a look and a smile to Jonah, crouching down to get to his height. “And as always good to see you too,” she adds, holding a closed hand palm up toward the boy. A moment later she spreads her fingers and a palm-sized flower grows out of her skin, vibrant in shades of red and orange, mottled with deep crimson at its center with a fiery stamen.

“For good luck,” Sue says as she snaps the blossom off and hands it to Jonah, while looking up to Jim. “Do you do anything… special, Mr. Clark, that might help with gardening?” She didn't think to ask Dequan, ironically.

“You’re always useful,” Niki murmurs to Peyton with a friendly smile. She’s glad to see the other woman. And her adorable son, who seems to have captivated the other adults with his charm. All is as it should be.

Leaning against her dug-in shovel, Niki watches the others. Sue’s vibrant display lights up her eyes. Not quite as much as Jonah’s are sure to, but there’s a certain wonder there that hasn’t worn off yet. No matter how many times she sees Sue’s ability in action.

Jonah’s expression shifts from chagrin to grinning as the men share in his wonder and excitement, despite what his mother says. At Dequan’s question, he looks around, solemnly. “We keep digging,” he says, because Sue’s already started that. “It’ll be messy because it’s muddy but at least the ground is soft. If you wait too long, it gets too cold.”

The small child speaks with authority, given there was a garden in his home at the school in Toronto.

Sue’s offering of the flower makes his mouth drop, and the old-man-farmer routine is chased away by the wonder again, and he reaches out to take the flower, ever so gently, before murmuring a soft “Wow.” He brings it over to show Niki, holding it up to her. “Look!”

Peyton watches, her own eyes shining with both the beauty of the flower and the excitement it grows within her son’s eyes, before meeting Sue’s eyes and smiling. “It’s always lovely to see you, too,” she says, before looking back at the query to Jim. “Mine certainly doesn’t help, but I’ll do what I can.”

“That’s good to hear,” Jim says with a nod to Dequan, settling the shovel head in the dirt as he wipes a hand across his forehead. “And yeah, that’s right. South Dakota, Pine Ridge Rez. I’ve been gone a while, though. Nice to meet you.” He’d said it before, but it carries a bit of a different meaning this time. It’s not exactly more sincere — he was sincere before. Just a little more weighted, maybe.

He gets a foot on the back of the shovel head then, pushing it down into the dirt as he turns to look at Sue when she gives the second flower to Jonah, his eyes flicking up to Niki to catch that expression before he looks back. “I don’t,” he admits with a shake of his head, “unless you count maybe seeing an aphid infestation before it happens. I can’t promise I’d even know it was about this garden if I did, though. Honestly, it’s about seventy percent guesswork at best. But I can dig a hole.” As evidenced by the dirt dislodged by the shovel, and he shoots a grin at Peyton as he shifts the shovelful.

There’s a soft chuckle and a nod of his head to Sue, he lets the explanation of a blessing for another time. Dequan has seen quite a few amazing and miraculous things amongst his own people, however not someone who’s connection to the earth is channeled in such a way. He does however, idly crack his neck and start heading for the pile of shovels and such after receiving the guidance and wisdom of Jonah.

If he notices that Sue doesn’t ask him if his abilities can be of any help, he doesn’t comment on it. He’s just studying the lot thoughtfully. He glances up towards the rain and then down towards the ground. He does talk as he works though. “I’ve been by the memorial garden, where I heard about the robbery.” He nods slowly and has shoved a shovel down into the dirt, to turn over the mud, but he seems to be doing something else.

He’s dug a hole, and has tilted his head to the side as he puts a hand into the hole and counts under his breath a the rain starts to fill it. He sits back on his heels after a moment, shaking out his hands. “You all might need to consider getting some latticed fences in the corners for vine based fruit, get some raised beds and in between those beds, you all might be able to get a good yield with berries and somet taro but…” He trails off. “You’re gonna have to make sure whatever ya’ll get to planting in this bed has a high tolerance for a rainy day…”

He starts working on his next shove of mud, ignoring the dirt/mud on his hand by just wiping it off on his pants. “Mint might be good to have to, get a raised herb bed.”

Smiling fondly at Jonah, Sue stands up and brushes her hands off on her knees. She watches Jim and Niki for just a moment and seems approving of how quickly the newcomer is acclimating. She turns then, toward Dequan, and watches him with an assessing look and then walks up to stand at his side and see the garden from his perspective.

“Those’re all good ideas.” Sue agrees, tucking her hands into the pockets of her overalls and letting her posture slack. “I've never gardened on this scale before,” comes with a look up to Dequan, “usually just flowers, succulents. But the food shortage has made farmers out of all of us. I'm sorry you have to see the Safe Zone the way it is right now.” She blinks her stare away from Dequan back to the perimeter of the garden. “Bread lines don't exactly sell the image this place is supposed to have.”

The drizzling rain lets up a little, becoming a fine mist, though the cloud cover remains. From the direction of the market, a white-haired woman with stooped posture and a steady pace approaches the garden with an old plastic serving tray that might have come from a cafeteria or a diner, currently stacked with mismatched and in some cases chipped ceramic mugs, a glass decanter in the shape of an elephant, and a small sugar bowl that looks like a derelict part of a now incomplete set.

The kindly old cafe owner Eleanor Ridgley steps past the bags of soil and loam, mindful of the shovels, a searching gaze, voice raised only enough to be heard over the conversation. “I thought you all might like a little pick me up. It's instant coffee,” she admits with reticence, “so try to measure your expectations.”

Niki’s eyes widen with surprise, exaggerated for Jonah’s sake, a small gasp of appreciation as she leans closer to examine the gift in his hands. “That’s really amazing! Did you say thank you? That’s a really nice thing Ms Gandry did for you.” She smiles fondly and slides a glance toward Peyton as if to say you did good with this one.

Straightening up, the blond returns to her work, churning up more dirt for the pile, digging a little deeper. “So you’re precognitive,” she remarks to Jim plainly. There’s no wariness or excitement in her tone. Precognition tends to be complicated. Especially for the one in possession of it. “I emit microwave radiation. My ability doesn’t do any good until we’re ready to eat,” she teases.

Or when their coffee might need reheating. Niki perks up at the sight of Eleanor. “An angel,” she declares with a grin. “Instant coffee is still coffee. And you saved us all a run. Thank you so much.”

“Thank you!” Jonah says quickly when Niki reminds him of his manners, before Peyton has to. Peyton grins, before she picks up a shovel and joins the digging, listening to the various conversations between Dequan, Sue, Niki and Jim on gardening and abilities — of course, the digging is short lived as Eleanor shows up soon.

She turns to Jim. “I can relate. I see what should be straightforward and present-tense, but it doesn’t always make sense to me. Clairvoyant.” She doesn’t offer any more explanation than that, but as powers go, it’s not a complicated one. At least on paper.

Setting down the shovel, she makes her way to the coffee break area, smiling at Eleanor. “You’re a godsend.” Meanwhile Jonah’s happy to keep digging, because coffee is gross in his six-year-old mind.

Jim looks from Dequan to Sue as they speak about the garden, with the expression of one who doesn’t totally follow the whole conversation, but is interested in what’s being said. Niki’s words, however, distract him, and he looks over to her, nodding once. “Yep,” he says, though the last words to him make him laugh. “Still pretty good,” he says. “I’m ready to eat most of the time.”

And speaking of! Or drink, anyway, as he notes Eleanor’s arrival. He gives her a grateful smile as he adds, “Thank you.” He doesn’t partake in it yet, though, and instead sticks the shovel in the ground again, turning up some more of the soil as he looks up to Peyton with slightly raised eyebrows. “Oh yeah?” he asks. “Well yeah, then you know what I mean.”

There’s a soft grunt of acknowledgement to Sue as she stands near him, and he turns over another hole of mud with a slow nod. Dequan sucks his front teeth in a soft ‘tch’ before he replies. “Then you need to start thinkin’ about high yield crops, plants and such that provide quantity but take up less space so you can grow more of it. When you’re gardening to feed people…to grow the wheat to make the bread to reduce them bread lines?”

He uses his foot to push the shove in further so he can turn the shovel and deftly dig some more. “You gotta plant smart.” Then his attention is taken by the coffee lady and he lets his full lips curve in a small smile. There’s a respectful nod of his head. He uses the sleeve of his hoodie to wipe some rain off of his face and he hasn’t taken a cup yet munch like Jim but he does offer his own appreciation. “We are ever so grateful, thank you ma’am.”

And he stabs the shovel into the ground to unzip his hoodie and tie it around his waist, allowing his arms more free movement as he starts in earnest with the shoveling. Listening to the discussion about abilities, and shoveling.

Flashing a smile, Eleanor watches the cups of coffee disappear one by one as other volunteers come over and each take a cup. Sue notably abstains, but fondly regards Eleanor regardless. “You all,” Eleanor notes, quickly flashing another, “have far more manners than my grandson, that's for certain. He could learn a thing or two from you all, bless his heart.”

“Planting for the harvest wasn't exactly in the original plans for this city,” Sue admits wryly as she stands by Dequan. “The uh, mayor does her level best with everything but I sometimes feel like the smaller details slip through. Some people are so accustomed to the world that was before the war, they aren't looking at the one that we actually live in.”

Turning on her heel to face Dequan, Sue’s shoulders rise and fall in a helpless shrug. “I've heard that Raytech Industries is working with Yamagato to start some huge aeroponics installation. That'll be nice when it's finished in, what, three years?” Sue isn't as optimistic about those odds, or either corporation involved.

“You sound like this isn't your first big garden,” is Sue’s way of fishing for information. “If you've got expertise, the Co-op isn't exactly overflowing with volunteer farmers. You want something shot or blown up, plenty of folks have that life experience. But rebuilding?” She clicks her tongue. “That's a different commodity.”

Niki cradles her coffee in her hands, inhaling the scent before she takes a sip and hums appreciatively. For the moment, she watches Jonah dig, mind wandering until she hears mention of Raytech and Yamagato. Her mouth opens to speak, but only an inaudible sigh slips past those lips. It’s no secret that she’s a strong supporter of the project. She doesn’t need to engage in a debate about something that’s already essentially settled.

Besides, they’re doing what they can in the immediate here and now. She lifts her brows at Sue’s assessment of the skills that are available in the Co-op and grimaces faintly. “Settlers we aren’t,” Niki admits. “But some of us are trying at least. That’s something.” There was a time when she was far more comfortable with a tool of destruction in her hand than one of reconstruction herself. Sometimes she feels like she’s just pretending.

Peyton stands where she can keep an eye on Jonah happily digging in the mud — luckily he’s following the line already begun by the adults. She sips her coffee, glancing at Sue when the woman mentions Raytech.

“Do they have anyone with your ability on either staff? That might speed things along,” she says with a smile, then nods to both Niki and Sue. “You’ve all done such great work building what we have so far, honestly. I feel a little guilty coming in late to reap the benefits of it.”

Of course, that guilt goes deeper and for other reasons, but it’s also why she usually carries a box of donations anytime she goes to Red Hook. “You’re not a professional gardener either, I imagine?” she asks Jim, before her gaze moves to Dequan, as he begins to work the earth in earnest. “Mister Silvercreek there is putting us coffee jonesers to shame, I’m afraid.”

“Nope,” Jim replies to Peyton, shaking his head as he sticks the shovel in the earth again, continuing the work. Seems he wasn’t lying — he can dig holes. It’s not the most impressive skill, but it has finally come in handy! “Not even an amateur gardener, but I’m looking forward to learning.”

He keeps on doing what he’s doing as he speaks, though also keeps an eye on those more experienced, probably to make sure that he doesn’t somehow do it wrong. Sue’s comment about the world as it is, though, gets a little wry twist of his mouth, and while he doesn’t say anything, he nods once in agreement as he digs.

Dequan lets a ‘hmm’ rumble through his chest as he listens to Sue use her words to paint this picture of the Safe Zone, all the plans of businesses he has only heard and read about. “Well, it is easy to grow so tall towards the sun, and to forget about your roots, but if you travel far enough back down the trunk of the tree, you will see how deep those roots actually are. The question people have to ask themselves is after taking and expecting so much from the land, the air and the sea…how much are they willing to work to finally give back?”

He glances over to Jim with a lift of an eyebrow before turning back to Sue, nodding slowly. “I have a bit of experience, Silvercreek Farms is in my birthright, and we have done okay during and after the war…if you like, I can negotiate some help and assistance between my people and your co-op.” He keeps shoveling through this discourse, pausing only to look back at those gathered. “So who all knows what they’d like to taste from this garden to be?”

There’s a curious cast to Sue’s expression as she listens to Dequan. Briefly, she flits a look over to Peyton, Jim, and Niki, and then to Eleanor and watches the older woman gracefully slipping out of the conversation to head out of the inclement weather and back to the shelter of the market. “I think the Cooperative Council would be… I think we’d be very interested in that kind of negotiation.” Though Sue isn’t sure what they’d even have to negotiate with. The fondness with which she regards Dequan is displayed in subtle things; ghosts of a smile, a squint of inspection, as if he defies her expectations.

Ultimately, it’s Dequan’s question that elicits a raise of Sue’s brow. “I’m partial to herb gardens, but that’s not going to fill bellies. Squash would be good…” her mind wanders to the approaching fall, “pumpkins, cloves,” her smile grows a little at the daydreaming. “I’m not sure what we have seeds for, I’d need to check the reserves.”

The conversation has Niki’s brows lifting as she listens. The possibility of aid from a successful farm would be invaluable. Like Sue, she wonders what they have to offer in return that they would be interested in. She’s quiet as she takes a long drink from her cooling coffee.

“Sweet corn,” the councilwoman adds to her fellow’s wish list. “Eggplant.” Niki grins and sets her coffee aside to return to her shovel. Can’t have any of it until they put in the work. “I might be able to talk to some people about getting more seeds in.” If her connections are willing to use their resources for that sort of project. She has faith.

“We had a garden at the school up in Toronto, but I mostly just looked at it and enjoyed the spoils,” Peyton says to Jim with a smile. “And went to visit the pygmy goats.”

The question about what she’d like to taste makes her consider for a moment, though Jonah calls from his digging spot, “Pineapple!”

Peyton laughs, but doesn’t explain how that’s not the most plausible of crops in their climate. “Grapes and asparagus, maybe,” she says. “Oh, and artichokes.” Since they’re dreaming big. To Dequan’s proposal of a partnership with his farm, she adds, “That would be amazing. We could use all the help we can get, of course.”

Jim looks around as the others give their requests, and a little amused snort escapes him at the mention of pineapple, though he does give Jonah a nod, his own expression a bit wistful. “Pygmy goats?” he asks as he turns to Peyton with a little wider smile. “Sign me up. I’d like to hang out with some pygmy goats.”

After they’ve all gone, though, he takes his turn. “I wouldn’t mind some medicinal plants. Blazing star, soapweed, matchbrush. But that’s probably a niche wish,” he admits as he continues to dig, though he looks over to Dequan as he does. “Maybe you can help me start up something like that somewhere where it won’t take up food space.”

Southern Manners Beaten into him from a young age, Dequan is polite enough to lift a hand to wave to Eleanor as she takes her leave. Then his attention is divided between Sue, the others, and his digging. He almost seems to have a rhythm going as he hmmms softly, contemplating the information given and his lips curve slightly at some of the requests as they come in His gaze however is either down at the ground, or focused on Sue, sometimes straying to the blossom tucked/woven into her hair.

“We’ll set something up then. Because for sustainable farming, if you mean to use it for survival, you’re going to need also those who know the water and the air. Irrigation and weather patterns. I’ve got my resources, and maybe they can help teach willing volunteers.” The tall man stops shoveling to rest an arm against the butt of the shovel and bows his head. “Granted, pretty sure my ancestors did a trial run of this back in the day. It's like reliving history.” He winks, his tone teasing, a hint of a chuckle beneath his words.

Squash, Corn, Herbs, Fruit, Nightshades…even asparagus and artichokes,the list keeps growing his mind when he finally replies. “Grapes are doable, if you have carpenters willing to get the something to train the vines up.” He replies to Peyton..Then to Niki. “And corn, corn I have a plenty. If you want to grow sweet corn here, I can get you a corn that really may believe you are eating gold. High yield as well, which means you’d need less individual stalks per area.” He sucks his teeth thoughtfully, and shrugs a shoulder. “Squash is also a good crop, if we get things done right, we can get some pumpkins going.”

To Jim and Jonah respectfully, he nods quickly to Jim. “Yeah. I’m thinking you all do need a reliable herb garden, for lovely enthusiasts…” A glance to Sue. “As well as for medical practitioners I am guessing?” He recognized those herbs. And to Jonah he hmmm softly. “Pineapples are rather stubborn fruit when they are growing, prickly as can be. And moody. But they are quite tasty…alas, if it wasn’t for the attitude of that fruit…” He tsks softly.

Sue dips her head down with a thoughtful smile. “I’m not sure the physicians at Elmhurst would be as excited, but…” she lets the notion hang, turning her attention to the garden plot and looking past the vacant, muddy lot that it is right now and to the sprawling thing it could be with some love and attention. In that way, it is a microcosm of the Safe Zone itself, something ugly and ruined that with time and attention could be made to be so much more than it is now.

Closing her eyes and tilting her chin up to the rain, Sue’s smile grows and she lets her head tilt to the side, eyes opening as she looks at Jim, then Peyton. “It means a lot to see people coming out to help, who aren’t already in deep.” In deep like she and Niki are. “Maybe there’s something to be said for second chances,” she blinks a look over to Dequan, indirectly referencing his comment about reliving history. “Maybe with a little love and care, we can all build something better.”

Sue is looking at the same clouds that Jim is, looking at the rain coming down over the city, but she doesn’t see what Jim sees. To him, the wispy clouds drifting upward on a rising wind look more like waves. Or, with the streaks of darker, stormy gray in them…

They almost look like flames.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License