On Wednesday night last week, I attended the final North Eastham Village Center Master Plan meeting at the Eastham Public Library. The design group has done a great job so far with what they have been given by creating a concept for the three town-owned properties in the new village center: the former T-Time driving range, the Town Center Plaza, and the current Council on Aging.
I am an advocate for using the 11-acre T-Time space for a community garden and food forest. While I am happy that this idea has been included in the conceptual plans, they do not go far enough. As a community, we are failing at designing spaces that will actually build community, provide for future generations, and not cause more harm to the Earth. We are not paying attention to what we need — which is the Earth.
A lot of the older people at the meeting advocated for building a new town swimming pool at the T-Time site. We were not able to find swimming lessons that worked for us and our three-year-old over the summer, and I still don’t want a pool. We are lucky enough to live in a place surrounded by water. We should focus on reducing our impact on the natural bodies of water around us, including the nitrogen from fertilizers and septic systems that are affecting our freshwater ponds.
There are already two indoor pools in Eastham. If people don’t like them, too bad. Driving 20 or 30 minutes to a different indoor pool you like better is not that hard.
Taking more from the Earth than we give back has been a common theme throughout much of recent human history. To survive as a species, we must return to indigenous peoples’ practices of living in harmony with the Earth.
We have an opportunity to do this with the T-Time space. We need to work towards local sovereignty and building true community by planting edible, medicinal, and native plants and by designing spaces that are inviting and welcoming to all. A food forest garden will give back more than it takes.
When we allow plants to grow, they collect and filter rain, adding clean water to the aquifer. Healthy soil teeming with life helps harmonize all of life on Earth. Parking lots and buildings can’t do that. Wildlife will be attracted to the area through a connection that we humans can hardly understand. The plants can and will provide for us now as well as for many generations to come.
Another imperative for achieving this vision is composting. If it’s not compostable — i.e., if it’s plastic — don’t use it. If it is compostable, then make sure it actually gets composted.
The more we build and the more resources and energy we use, the more we take from the Earth. We are seeing the effects of this worldwide in increasing droughts followed by increasingly intense storms. Food shortages are on the rise.
The least represented idea in the North Eastham Village Center conceptual design is the one we need the most: the food forest and garden concept — an outdoor garden for and with the community. This is not the time to compromise. We’ve done that enough as a society, and we all see the effects. An outdoor town center focused on giving back to the Earth more than we take will give us more than we could ever imagine.
It is not too late. At the last master plan meeting, I was one of maybe six people under the age of 55. I am 37. Unfortunately, people of my generation and younger were not well represented throughout this planning process. We need younger people who understand the importance of these ideas to voice their opinions. Please check out the North Eastham master plan and fill out the survey at northeasthammasterplan.com.
Shaun Logan lives in Eastham and designs gardens and edible landscapes.