A Tale of Two Streets Part II

For those of you who regularly follow this blog today’s story took place on Saturday, June 2nd.   It is the promised follow up to the story, “A Tale of Two Streets”, published May 10, 2012 on the Project Sweet Tomato site.  We pick up our story at the Cardoni Street Community Garden where we met with the two men responsible for the garden and the adjacent playground.

Introducing Rudell Solomon and Andre F. Ventura

 As Bonnie Odom-Brown, director for Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners, and I, along with a few of our young gardeners got out of the car, we saw a dark ruddy faced man on his hands and knees tenderly planting seeds in the soil of what is the Cardoni Street Community Garden.  I had talked to this man, Mr. Rudell Solomon, President of the International Million Man Network) a couple of times prior to our visit and was surprised that the hoped for volunteers had not shown up.  Equally as surprising was the fact that nobody that lived on the street was out there either.  Undeterred, Mr. Solomon had been working since the early morning and here at noon he had at least one-half of his garden done.  As he shook my hand, and before we could actually speak, he took the kids aside and told our already skilled (novice really) young gardeners that he was going to teach them how to plant a garden.  Even though the kids had received considerable experience from working at the school garden, this was a different layout (more in the traditional-style) and they did learn something’s that they didn’t know. 

Now this is how you do it…

Digging a row

Getting dirt under those nails!

The garden, in its third year, is 50’ x 25’ and has seven raised beds

When I did speak with Mr. Solomon, I found out he’d rather work with the kids than speak about himself.  A man of very few words, he gave me a few tidbits as he keenly watched the kids at work…

Referring to the kids working in the field…“Ain’t too young and they ain’t too little to learn how to grow food and to feed yourself!”

About the community…“I don’t live here so it is up to the community to take care of this garden.”

About his role…“I’ve got 3 other gardens in the city!  I plant them and leave it for the neighbors to take care of them.  The food is theirs…I don’t want any of it!”

About his goals…“I just want to bring people together”


The garden is growing Tomatoes, Cabbage, Kale, Mustard Greens, Bush Beans, Okra, Lettuce, Scallions and a Strawberry Patch.


Mr. Rudell Solomon & Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners

Now,  Mr. Andre F. Ventura is a different sort of man.  He is the Vice President of the operation created by Mr. Solomon.  Mr. Ventura is responsible for the attention grabbing sign at the corner of 8 Mile Rd. and Cardoni.  He had some literature that he shared with me that told a very interesting story as to who he is and why he is so passionate about saving Detroit.  As affable as Rudell was, Andre was equally as intense.  His intensity was not offensive or overly aggressive either; rather he came across as an informed, community activist who gives his all for the children of Detroit.  He doesn’t care much for politicians (current or past) and I got the strong sense that he felt that more control should be in the hands of the people.  Not an anarchist, but still a law abiding citizen that is looking for lasting solutions to some of our most difficult and critical problems.

These two men as different as night and day or black and white, have from this viewpoint a unique relationship.  They seem to have two very different purposes or plans but they manage to work together in ways that we wish our elected leaders could.  It is very obvious that they respect each other.  It would be nice if their message and the reach of their message touched more people, especially on Cardoni St. I have been back to the garden twice and it is starting to show signs of neglect.  The residents at this end of Cardoni have not been working in the garden and it is easy to see why.  The Nolan Fierce Gardeners will be making another visit real soon to do some weeding and grooming so that the plants will have a chance of surviving throughout the long hot summer days.

The Cardoni St. Garden, thanks to Rudell and Andre is truly a wonderful thing.  It would be a fitting end for this tale of two streets if the people of this street showed their appreciation by joining forces to take care of it.  Time will tell and until then, Nolan’s Fierce Gardeners will gladly pick up the slack!

To contact Rudell Solomon please call (313)-366-5967 or (313) 671-2819

To contact Andrea Ventura please call (586) 615-4941

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    […] A Tale of Two Streets Part II (beculturallyexposed.wordpress.com) […]

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    […] To Be Continued…A Tale of Two Streets Part II  […]

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