The smell of lavender greets my waking, aching body, as I will myself to crawl out of bed. Another day.
Gifts from the garden, bringing comfort in the home.
So I finally resolved to spend some time to stretch last night. Interestingly, it’s been a challenge being disciplined with stretching regularly. ‘Twill do me good, I know!
This week the harvest was a bit smaller than what we’ve been having since Salad Box season started. But those boxes still ended up looking full and bounteous. Lots of leafy lettuces, chard, parsley, scallions, and—for the first time this season—beets! We also pulled the very first head of garlic out of the ground! A momentous moment. That’s the good, so good.
The bad? Twist tie troubles. Usually we count out ties corresponding to the number of bunches of something that we need before going out to harvest. This week as we were packing, we realized we were short on a number of different items. This was likely the result of one of two things: miscounting or losing twist ties.
I think I was a bit too overjoyed after finishing the last math course of my life a few months ago, as my track record with counting out the right number of twist ties has not been the best. A couple weeks prior, Cass and I were perplexed that we only had half the bunches of Swiss chard we thought we’d bunched. Turns out I only counted out half the number of ties—oops! Thus, I’ve gotten a bit paranoid about double- and sometimes triple-checking my math!
Losing ties in the field is also going to require some attention. One does not think about such details of small-scale farming until one experiences the field-to-tote process first-hand.
On Wednesday we had a spontaneous weeding expedition at one of the Van Tech carrot beds. Covered by Reemay, it had been sneakily overridden by purslane, a succulent weed that mostly grows horizontally along the ground and is (thankfully) quite easy to pull out. As Scott had shared with us, not only is it edible, purslane has the highest omega-3 content of any vegetative plant! A quick Internet search will turn up a plethora of purslane-praising content. A happy fact about this weed indeed. To me, its flavour and slightly slippery texture taste a bit like a seaweed salad.
Offhandedly, I passed on my new purslane knowledge to Zin, one of our volunteers, when we found a patch in the radish bed. Her eyes lit up as she told me excitedly that purslane was something she ate often growing up in Turkey. Though regularly present at Turkish markets, nowhere in Vancouver has she been able to find this vegetable that reminds her of home. Zin shared that they would often use it in salads with a yogurt sauce. In Turkey, it is also eaten for its medicinal properties.
Us interns have been learning to work more independently, sometimes leading a small group of volunteers in a specific task (such as how to harvest chard, or how to hose down root veggies). I’m finding that this really tests the roots of our own learning—the more we teach it, the more we learn it. The community engagement aspect of Fresh Roots provides the opportunity to grow in areas beyond work-based farming. Harvesting, weeding, and washing with community is beautiful, challenging, and nourishing. How can we optimize working efficiently while sharing stories and relationship? An art I am continually blessed to delve into.
Weeding with Elvina on Tuesday, I experienced the power of working with other people in a new way. She is one speedy weeder! I’m used to Scott being a million times faster than me at everything. But working with someone else who has such astonishing dexterity in the field was amazing; it definitely helped move my own hands along faster! Amazing how a partner’s actions can motivate the mind.
Truly, we get to meet so many storied people at the farms—volunteers, passerby’s, staff and interns (you know who you are!). If we’d only take the time and exercise the intention to share and hear each other’s stories—oh, how rich would our days be! Like honey in the tummy. (Or a potluck lunch!)
For Elvina, her speediness comes from doing farm work growing up in Lithuania—trying to race through the tasks her mother gave her so that she could get onto other “fun” things. We shared a chuckle as she reflected on how she went from “hating it” as a child, to spending her spare time volunteering at a farm as an adult. It draws us back.
Meeting people like Zin and Elvina this week has shown me that food—the growing, sharing, and partaking of it—truly is something powerful and precious. It is a living meeting place, connecting hearts and memories, people and purposes.
A place of many links, held together perhaps by twist ties.
To end: for you, A Garlicky Gift.