On a September weekday morning, Maaye May removes the lock and chain from one of two gates and enters the Niles Street Community Garden in Hartford. A 6-foot high, black-metal fence encloses the garden, which measures half the size of a football field. Within the gated oasis, the city surroundings slip away as bees, birds, flowers, fruits and vegetables begin to dominate the senses. May, 41, has an hour and a half to pick Thai chili peppers before driving to her part-time job washing dishes in East Hartford. She disappears into a green hedge, filling a small blue bucket with red and green chilies.