Mary Mary So Contrary


delia_icon.gif dequan_icon.gif

Scene Title Mary Mary So Contrary
Synopsis How does your garden grow? Dequan gets a lecture on Safe Zone agro-economics and offers relief in return.
Date August 22, 2018

Satoru Memorial Garden

It was an interesting purchase. A request to rent 5 20x20 plots, 4 10x20 plots, and 3 10x10 plots, all under the name of ‘Silvercreek’. Dequan’s spent a lot of time recently, with a map of the Safe Zone, circling the area selected by the Co-Op for gardening and then circling the memorial gardens as well.

This morning however, he is settled in the garden when it first opened. Wearing a pair of dark blue basketball shorts and a thin and almost painted on white tank, his long hair is pulled back out of his face in a loose and messy ponytail as he’s currently working in one of the 20x20 plots. There’s gardening equipment neatly organized in a box/bucket, seeds all organized in small paper packages in a silver case as well, and a longer shovel laid out beside it as well. Leaning over with his bicep muscles twitching slightly as he cups something the palm of his hands, concentrating intently on the seed there and after a couple of seconds there’s a soft ‘crack’ sound that nobody can hear as a tiny sprig of green breaks free of the seed.

"A little late in the season to be just starting, aren't you?"

The voice comes from somewhere behind him and belongs to the proprietor of the establishment. Dressed in a pair of faded jeans and a concert t-shirt from a band that went defunct long before midtown, she's porting a collection of tools of her own in an old wheelbarrow. Her smile is easy and, when smooth, the crinkles at the corners of her eyes are paler than the rest of her face. She brings her barrow to a stop close to the plot he's working on and grabs a pair of shears from a wooden basket inside. "Most people are pulling up instead of putting in."

With that, she begins trimming back some vines that have started to creep from another plot into the path. The rubbish is throw in with the rest of her tools before she straightens up to examine the new plot Dequan is working with. "The dirt's good though," she muses, shading her eyes from the sun overhead. "There's a bit of time left to get some lettuce but I think that's about it right now."

There is a pause before Dequan carefully and tenderly places the now sprouted seed into the ground and arches an eyebrow as he looks over his shoulder. He bows his head politely.

There’s an easy smile that tugs at his full lips as he smooths and paths the earth over it, letting that tiny sprout of green peek out of the earth. “Squash, peas, cabbage…a few things I’d like to play around with…turnips and radishes may be good as well.” He does have an accent that speaks to his roots in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, smooth and warm and deep.

“The earth is always willing to nurture something, almost at any time of the year…” He holds another seed between his fingers, focusing again for a moment before another sprout of green starts peeking out and then he’s carefully placing that into the next hole. “Sometimes however, you have to do a little bit of leg work first.”

“Or a lot of leg work,” Delia intones with a smirk. She points toward a tangle of wild brush, trees, grasses, and dilapidated building. “It’s not exactly easy clearing the land for these spots but we’re getting there…” As long as people keep needing the plots and the revenue is there, the space will be open.

The revenue though….

Like rails in her mind, Delia switches back to the subject of plants rather than internally lamenting about the feasibility of remaining open another year. This one hasn’t been easy, especially with the food shortage getting shorter and hunger overruling good sense. “I might ask for some tips on getting this earth to provide… if we can grow more, we can probably get some sort of community kitchen started.” Like in Eltingville, but with more substance and less negation. “It would help curb the crime, I think, if people knew they could count on at least one square meal a day.”

Dequan is listening as he covers another hole up, adjusting himself so that he’s squatting, resting a hand comfortably on one knee as the other twists so he can kneel once more. He gives a thoughtful and low ‘hmm’ before straightening up to his full height and idly wiping his hands off on his shorts.

“Once you make a garden, the community’s…there’s a greater vested interest. Because one person stealing from another’s plot no longer exists. A person tries to rob the garden, their only robbing themselves.” He exhales softly. “Once you start charging for the use of land, you set up ownership. And people are always gonna want what others have.”

He gestures around him with a shrug of his shoulders and folds his arms over his chest. “I haven’t been in this city long but I’ve heard of 3 different efforts to help folks in this safe zone learn how to better live off the land. One, from a corporation. One, from a community. And then this one, for a cost. Whoever manages to feed people first…is gonna be the a reasonable facsimile of the garden of Eden.”

His shoulder shrugs again as he kneels back down to selects a small paper package of seeds from his case, toying with it.

"Community gardens cost," Delia says, keeping her voice as even and nonchalant as she can while she bristles underneath. "Because this is a community garden. It costs people to run them, it costs to clear the land, it costs to get good dirt, and it costs to get fertilizer. Maintenance isn't free because even I need to eat."

Waving her hand around them, she flicks a finger at the scads of plots that line acres and acres of property. "I did all this by hand, myself. Fees are pretty goddamned tiny for the amount of work I put in… not to mention the risk of getting shot." Like what happened so recently.

“People steal because they don’t want to put the work in themselves,” she continues, the ire creeping into her tone. “There’s a lineup for plots every spring and every summer people drop plots. You got plots because other people didn’t want to work them for their food.”

There is a soft ‘tcha’ and slow nod of sympathy as Dequan listens to the woman speak, and his dark gaze sweeps over other plots and weeds and such and he has to nod again. “Indeed.” The tall man agrees before straightening up, full lips curving in a hint of a smile.

“So how do you incentivize a community that is still recovering from having to react and survive? How do you encourage them to create and plan? The people who hunger the most are often not the ones who can afford to pay, yet this creates a dilemma no? Unless you can get people who want to pay to grow enough to afford to feed the people who cannot afford to pay…” He tuts softly and rubs a hand over his face.

Then he turns to regard Delia quietly for a few moment, looking her over and pursing his lips deep in thought, finally he sucks his teeth and nods. “What type of vegetables did they steal last time they robbed the fruit of your labors?”

"That's why they pay into the crop share with part of their produce," Delia informs as she maneuvers the barrow toward one of the weedier plots nearby and pulls out a dutch hoe. She's quick at wielding the long handle, working the soil until it's soft around the plants and chopping up the weeds "Twenty percent of their crops. I take ten of it for me in lieu of cash for rent, the other ten goes to the Safe Zone community to help against the food shortage."

She pauses, leaning against the tool she's holding and frowns. "Except this year it all got stolen." She shifts her gaze toward Dequan and shrugs at his questions. "Before people can think of working, they need to be able to think. You can't think on an empty stomach… As for the thieves, they were just taking. They didn't care what, they just wanted some."

The breeze picks up, lifting some of the freshly tilled weeds and displacing them a few inches before putting them down again. It carries with it the smell of freshly cut grass and rain. "Root vegetables, that's what we need. Easy to store, easy to grow, and they last forever."

“So, you had input or say into the gardens that the Safe Zone is making over there near the marketplace?” Dequan asks curiously, head cocking to the side for a moment as if listening to something.

“I’d hate to see the implementation of that new garden to somehow discourage people from rebuying the plots that their gonna need for the next year, but I’m sure you’ve thought of such things.” The man moves towards a weedy plot, kneeling down and letting his hand hover over the soil for a moment before nodding to himself. “I’ll see what I can do, ma’am.”

There is a pause before he offers. “I’m represent the interests of the Silvercreek farms. Nowhere near here, but we have decent harvests and a legacy that’s survived before and after the war and the way my father and my uncles and such figure? It's hard to show appreciation for the bounty that comes from the earth, if you’re not sharing it with people who need it most.”

He reaches for something in the bed, tugging a few deeper weeds up by the roots. “As far as I can see, there are so many here who would benefit from our assistance.”

“That’s a negative Ghostrider,” Delia answers the first question. Surprisingly, she doesn’t seem bothered by the news that the Market will be sprouting its own garden. There’s a long moment of deliberation while she cleans out the rest of the plant bed, snipping away sprouts that have grown where they don’t belong or pulling deeply rooted weeds. Both the sprouts and the roots are placed into a bucket, away from the refuse in the rest of the barrow. “There’s not enough good land around the Market to feed more than fifty people for a year, at most. My place can feed over three hundred families.”

Regardless, there is concern in her expression now. “To feed everyone in the safe zone, we’d have to reclaim all of Queens and probably up into Westchester… We need fields for that, grain. There just isn’t enough viable land right here.” It’s why the Safe Zone relies so much on farms like the one Dequan describes. Say what you will about the proprietor of the garden, she has done her homework.

“Mm. But there’s just enough land to build hope.” Dequan replies softly but he doesn’t disagree with the assessment given. He just thoughtfully sucks his teeth again and exhales as he does the mental calculations. He came here for opportunity and there just seems to be more than he thought there would be.

“This isn’t farmland, and unless things are torn down and the earth turned over and tilled, there isn’t field space either. People want to see the city rebuilt. I just wonder if in the end, nostalgia or survival will win out.” Dequan isn’t idle though as he speaks, he’s selecting weeds carefully, seeming the know which ones are being choked out and which ones will require snipping and such. “So, outside of some root vegetables…is there anything else you think I could possibly do for you?”

Delia stops what she’s doing and sits up in the bed, looking over at Dequan. “Are you looking for a job? I can’t pay much… crop share or plots.” He did order enough of them, a couple thousand dollars worth. Money that will be put to good use, survival.

“If you are then… “ She motions toward the brushline, where the plots stop and the wilderness takes over. “We can do more than the Market, more plots mean more families with food next summer. I’ve been thinking about building greenhouses.” Really, most of it is pipedreams, napkin drawings, and musing. “There’s enough abandoned buildings, we could scavenge some material for them. That is… if you’re looking.”

Arms fold again over his chest as Dequan processes what is being said and then unfold so he can rub the back of his neck with a soft chuckle and a flicker of being impressed passing over his features. “I am looking to make alliances, to further the betterment of my people by encouraging the betterment of other people, ma’am. That is a job in and of itself, so I don’t really have to look for it.”

He spreads his arms to gesture to the garden all around them. “And this is an opportunity that I’d hate to sideline on account of a verbal technicality. I don’t need you to pay me, but through me the work that you will drive and do will in the end be reward enough.” He purses his lips thoughtfully. “I will help you expand the scope of your gardening efforts, if you bring me a business plan that will help us negotiate the best contract for us all. You want greenhouses, you want to expand, you want to feed more people?”

He shrugs a shoulder before moving forward and offering a hand. “I would like very much to help you see this come true. Dequan Silvercreek.”

“Pleasure,” it’s not sarcastic but the opposite. “Delia Ryans, but you probably know that already.” As Delia tosses some more greenery into the bucket in the barrow, it’s clean that she’s not just cleaning but harvesting as well. Not produce, but the edible weeds like dandelion, chickweed, and chamomile. The undesirable things that choke out the good plants but can still make a place for themselves on a table.

The bucket is almost full now, so she stops. “My business plans though, they’re not as fancy or as formal as you’ll get from a place like Raytech or Yamagato,” she explains in a quieter voice, “I don’t like to spend the money that could be better used elsewhere. Just a warning.”

From the looks of her, it’s probably not a needed warning. She’s also not as presentable as a representative from either company. Or any company. Her entire being seems to revolve around the blue collar. “There’s a few amateur apiaries too, I think offering them space for free would be a good move.”

“I’m not looking for the perfect formatting and fancy stationary, Delia Ryans.” Dequan reassures the woman before bowing his head politely and kneeling back beside his plot to select a few more seeds from his stash and making a few more holes as he tosses a glance over his shoulder at the woman. Studying her with a hint of being impressed.

“You put it together, and I’m sure that my people and your own, will have a very rewarding and mutually beneficial arrangement.”

It’s good that he’s not looking for fancy stationary, because by the looks of the woman digging around in the dirt, sketches on loose-leaf and handwritten scribbles might be the best that he gets. In other words, she will do her best but there are no computers are her disposal, let alone printers.

As she finishes cleaning the plot she’s working on, she begins packing up her wheelbarrow and then goes through the process of sorting the greenery she pulled from it. The bucket of inedibles seems much smaller than the bucket of edibles, and for this, she seems quite pleased. “I really hope so, Dequan,” she’s also not so formal as to use last names. After all, he did rent an unusual amount of garden plots, she feels as though they’re the best of friends. “I think that this place and its residents can use all of the helping hands they can get.”

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