Backyard gardens come in all forms. Some gardens are highly-managed, while others haven’t been tended in decades.
In a high-intensity garden, every square inch is designated for a particular purpose. Plants are grouped by type and watering requirements. Annual crops must be planted each year, with great care to start them indoors last the succumb to late frost. Plants are selected, not based on hardiness and suitability for the site, but because the gardener wants that plant in that site.
High-intensity gardens need daily and skilled management to thrive. Two weeks without watering will kill most of these gardens. A year of neglect will result in more weeds than plants, and several years will leave the garden in an unrecognizable and unproductive state.
On the other hand, so-called permaculture gardens and others in that style need little or no management to thrive. Plants are selected for their suitability for the site and adaptability to the local climate. The gardener focuses more on the overall vision for the garden and avoids micromanaging each spot. Surprises abound as seeds find their way into unplanned parts of the garden and thrive or fail based on the site’s suitability. More perennial plants and self-sowing annual plants reduce the need for the gardener to re-plant each year. These gardens may benefit from some additional water and fertilizer, but do not need it to bear fruit.
If a sustainably-designed garden is neglected for weeks, months, or sometimes years, the garden needs very little input from the gardener to return to its optimal state. While it may not produce as much fruit per square inch as the highly-managed garden, it bears much more per hour of the gardner’s time. It does not suffer in the same way due to lapses in gardener judgment or periods of neglect.
Cities are much like gardens. They all need some level of care to thrive. However, a city’s design greatly influences its day-to-day needs. As we give in to our desire to micromanage and make Cedar City perfect according to our own design, we often make it less resilient.
When every square inch of a city garden has a purpose, it is difficult or impossible to make room for new opportunities and innovations trying to find a place in an intricate framework of regulations.
When a city is dependent on its elected and career gardeners for its every need, it doesn’t take long for an incompetent or negligent gardener to make lasting damage to the city’s ecosystem.
If instead our elected officials focus on the big picture and the overall vision, and less on ways to exercise control over every aspect our garden, we will find that our city becomes stronger. New ideas need a place to be tested, operate, and thrive.
Residents need more options to live closer to commercial districts if they so choose. Business owners need predictable and fair regulations so they can focus on growth instead of compliance. Our infrastructure needs to adapt to current trends, needs, and with our future budget in mind.
If you have any input on new ways to take a step back as gardeners of our city and allow more natural processes to take hold, please let me know so we can work together. We will find that our city becomes more resilient for it as new generations make Cedar City their home.