Siting Green Zone: gardening at Firehouse 13

July 16, 2008 at 1:38 am 1 comment

When I told my friend Kris (the Blithewold blogger) about gardening at Firehouse 13, she said, “I didn’t realize that firehouse 13 was an artist space – I assumed you’d be working with the emts and whatnot.” Not exactly…

From the FH13 website: “Firehouse no13 is dedicated to sheltering exciting, innovative and contemporary creative works. It is a forward thinking urban project appealing to experimental artists and creative innovators.” The first floor (where fire engines once parked) is a gallery + performance + gathering space; the second floor (where firemen bunked) hosts artists-in-residence; and the third floor has an open space.

When I asked about installing Green Zone, director Anna Shapiro laid out a couple of existing conditions:

1) Preserve FH13’s green space, and don’t garden on top of grass or plants. Since Green Zone is a container garden, it could sit on any surface. We found a spot on the concrete strip between parking lot and lawn.

2) Beware of rats. Outdoor gardening anywhere–a Providence parking lot, a suburban backyard, or a rural farm–means looking out for the local fauna. From the East Side to the South Side, that means rats. After talking with other urban gardeners, I opted for veg that might be less attractive to rats. I stuck with leafy greens (kale, lettuce, arugula) and veg that produce fruit underground (beets, radishes, turnips). No tempting tomatoes, peas, cukes, beans, etc.

3) Anything can happen. FH13 hosts events that attract people from all over. FH13 is a block away from Broad Street in a busy area with restaurants, businesses, schools, and residences. One day, I stopped by Green Zone and found human hair (huh?!?) in one tire. One of the FH13 artists told me there had been a hair-cutting party nearby.

So far, so good. The residents and Anna help me keep look after Green Zone, and I make sure they eat their vegetables.


Entry filed under: community gardens, Firehouse 13, food, gardens as art, Green Zone Garden, Providence. Tags: , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Kris at Blithewold  |  July 17, 2008 at 10:52 am

    It’s clearly the ideal place for green zone (I’m wishing I had appropriated that name for my personal bubble long ago). I’ve even heard that human hair is a pretty good slow release fertilizer full of nitrogen. You’re set!


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