Project Description

Murray and Lori Rockowitz are neighbors of the Heckmans. From across the street, they saw the transformation of Trathen’s yard into the bio-diverse, food-producing oasis that it is today.The experience was contagious.  For a decade, the Rockowitz front yard was an ivy patch centered by an old apple tree.

Murray collected cardboard, had compost delivered and created a berm using recycled woody material from his site. Daily Acts organized volunteers to assist in the one-day transformation. Ina few short hours, a community of 30 people pulled out ivy,sheet mulched, and laid compost down. Ready for planting! Murray said that the energy of the volunteers was like that of a wedding- full of love and caring. And at the end of the day, they shared in food, drink and pride in the community experience.

Now, the former ivy patch is a copiously producing food forest of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, salad greens, Brussel sprouts, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, huckleberries, tree collards, onions peas and artichokes. The broccoli tastes so good they eat it raw and Murray says he even eats things he never liked before like cilantro and parsley.

That experience led Murray and Lori to go further. A rain spout that formerly drained onto their driveway is now diverted into the gardens. What was once a failed retaining wall is now a beautiful and functioning stonewall, with the gift of excess abundance from a stone worker friend. They increased their edible growing capacity, pruning to get more sunlight onto the gardens in the backyard and have planted more vegetables and fruit trees this past year.

One of the more interesting features Murray engineered is a number of twine strands that hang from the trees, anchored by bolts, spaced 10” apart.  People often ask if its art. Well yeah…functioning art. The deer don’t like to wade through the closely spaced twine so the artwork cuts down on the grazing considerably. He also crafted posts made from apple branch cuttings that act as a barrier around the lemon, blueberry and tomatoes.

Murray and Lori feel honored and privileged with the assistance that they received from Daily Acts volunteers. They love the community building aspect that their yard brings. And when neighbors stop to admire, chat and inquire, Murray sometimes gets an extra pair of hands to dig into the fun. And they get compliments on the apple tree  – remember that old apple tree? It’s looking proud amidst the gardens.

Photography Murray Rockowitz photographer.