I've always seen fresh fruit and vegetables as ingredients, a box of possibilities to try a new recipe or share a meal with family and friends. Now, for the first time I looked at a box of produce and saw my hand in its creation and not just a box of ingredients. I've experienced pride in creating culinary dishes that people enjoyed, but I never truly appreciated how it all comes together until I took part in the growing process.
One of the joys of working in a garden is watching your hard work yield tangible results. A few short months ago, I started here helping Gary (our head gardener) plant out various types of produce and learned how to care for each different plant depending on it's life cycle, the weather and other factors. I learned how to properly water and feed certain types of plants, how to prepare the beds and how to transplant newly germinated plants into pots and then move seedlings into the beds. Each type of vegetable and fruit requires it's own unique form of care and it is satisfying to see all of the nuances for each item create such beautiful and, more importantly, delicious food.
Our CSA is in full swing now and each Monday I help harvest the produce that will go into our boxes and deliver them to our members. I can look in each box and have a connection to it that goes beyond simply planting and watering. When I see the heads of lettuce I vividly remember sowing the seeds in trays and watering them at each stage, transplanting them into the beds and spending time making sure the water puddles in the right amount when they are young in the beds. Later inserting hoops and protective cloth over the lettuce beds to protect them from predators and too much sun until they matured and were ready to harvest. I have similar memories of our carrots and radishes, which were sowed directly in the bed and required many hours of thinning to make sure that as they grew, there would be adequate room for each vegetable to reach its optimum size. Each item in the box has a unique story that I was a part of and that gave me a new perspective.
On top of that revelation, I also delivered our first batch of boxes to our Clayton location and got to witness the happiness others had at receiving our boxes, which made me even more satisfied about the work we all put into getting everything ready. I have to say that the best part of process of growing food in our garden is the joy in other people's faces when they get their box; I can see the community in community supported agriculture and I can pass along the box of possibilities to the next person.