With the Harvest Moon come and gone, it’s fitting that we delve into the greatest harvest there is and the rich treasure that we’re gathering the last frost-sweetened bits of before winter arrives (at least here in the Northeast).
Recently, gardening has been brought to the forefront of popular culture with everyone who’s “anyone” digging in and getting dirty to grow their own fruits, vegetables, even making their own compost and choosing to eat at restaurants that feature simple and locally-sourced menus. The Obama’s brought gardening into world-wide headlines and into politics (where it desperately needs to be as we battle seed giants like Monsanto and other corporations with a less than conscious view of food) as Michelle and Sam Kass (White House chef) revived FDR’s Victory Garden. A few years ago, slow food pioneer Alice Waters convinced the mayor of San Francisco to tear up the lawn in front of city hall and an overwhelming number of Bay City residents turned out to help plant their own Victory Garden.
Gardens are springing up in areas where they haven’t really been seen before- on rooftops, in urban alleys, at schools and universities, growing up the sides of walls, and even in the backs of pickup trucks (check out the very cool Truck Farm).
With this gardening comes amazing food and with that food comes just as amazing waste that is easily turned into compost. The cycle is completed with that compost becoming food once more and so it goes in the most beautiful, sustainable and beneficial journey from earth to plate.
Gardening, real food, whole and fresh ingredients, keeping worms in your apartment to turn waste into rich soil. . . All of this is suddenly not just for the rural, Mother Earth News reading hippies (Speaking of which, have you looked at Mother Earth News? My parents had the entire encyclopedia and I spent a large part of my childhood poring over the volumes and trying just about everything in them, I highly recommend seeking them out, both old and current volumes). These things are now seen as incredibly hip and cool (check out Farmer D and the list of40 Farmers Under 40 for example) and I, for one, am completely psyched. Anything that gets people’s hands (and especially kids) into the dirt, putting them in direct contact with their food, while teaching them how to care for their own bodies and health, as well as our planet, is amazing. I firmly believe the greatest gift we can give to our children is the opportunity to connect with a garden of some kind (even if it’s some potted herbs or jars of sprouts in a city apartment) and all the lessons and values that come along with it.
When my own vermiculture bin is full (during the summer months when I’m stuffing myself gloriously on the fresh vegetables, melons, and herbs coming out of our ears, the worms are a bit overloaded and have trouble keeping up with my scraps!!), I bring my bags of compost (stored in the freezer to keep it running more energy efficiently and from attracting fruit flies) to friends who are outside the city, or farmers as they’re packing up for the afternoon at the end of the weekly market; my friends Dan and Ginger happily schlep it back to add it to their piles. Sometimes I want to climb in the truck with the compost and go back “home” where there are rolling fields and falling down barns; my first jobs were working on organic farms near my house growing up, and I loved packing up the truck after a before-dawn harvest and driving into the city to feed the busy rush of urbanites clamoring for fresh off the farm produce, feeling like the happiest girl in the world leaving after a busy morning with smiling people, dirt under my fingernails and a wooden box full of my own personal gold.
And that’s exactly what it is: our own personal cache of gold. What treasure could possibly top armloads of jewel colored beets, leafy greens (as a little girl thinking dreamily about a wedding someday, guess what I pictured as wedding bouquets? Ruffled lettuce heads and tall spires of swiss chard!), cream-colored turnips, purple and yellow carrots, sweet smelling dill, unusually huge bunches of basil, and the ugliest/most beautiful heirloom tomatoes ever. . .
We brush the dirt off, crunch, and are healed with the energy of the earth, air, sunlight and water. We are connected. And when we share with others, compost the scraps and plant more seeds, we complete that essential circle and connect with the entire universe.
There is no greater gift than that of soil, seed and the space to grow, and I encourage everyone, in whatever way works for your lifestyle, to give yourself and those around you that gift.
Seen previously at Loving Raw. . . the new Rockstar Community. . .