The mission of Just Roots is to increase access to healthy local food by connecting with people, land, resources and know-how. ‘Know-how’ was in evidence as folks got together at the Greenfield Community Farm on a Saturday morning last month to lay out plots for the new community gardens.
Coordinator Shelly Beck had mapped out on graph paper where all the plots would go. She presented a large square grid with four quadrants, intersected in the middle by a 12-foot-wide tractor road. Within each quadrant are individual (20′ by 20′ or 10′ by 20′) garden plots, delineated with 4′ wide paths. Our task was to take what was on paper and realize it in the field. At first we scratched our heads a bit but gradually we felt more and more confident to proceed.
It was an exercise in collective wisdom. Once we established the starting point and one of the sides, Kirsten knew how to make a square corner by using the 3-4-5 technique:
Make a triangle where the sides are multiples of 3, 4, and 5, respectively.
Two of those sides will be exactly square.
(This is an application of the Pythagorean Theorem (a2 + b2 = c2) which some of us dimly remembered from school.)
So we started with a 30″ by 40″ by 50″ triangle and were on our way. Once that corner was established, we used field tape measures to project those lines the whole length of the sides. With the perimeter established, a few of us knew how to double-check for squareness:
Measure the diagonals to see if the two distances match.
If they are equal, the corners are square.
Geoff using improvised plumb bob
As we staked out the plots within the grid, Geoff improvised a plumb bob by hanging a rock from a string. He then looked through the string to verify that the stakes were aligned.
Where does this stuff come from? School, the world of work, books, parents, grandparents—a collective wisdom that is part of the human experience and lets us know how to engage the world.