Sunday, July 4, 2010

The weeds are growing well...


The prairie on top the rootcellar at Elawa Farm, Lake Forest, Illlinois

and we have been eating many of them. A second flush of lambsquarters seedlings is coming up where the parsnips never did. Purslane has created a steady groundcover under the tomatoes. We're thankful - the heat and drought has slowed many of our cultivated annuals and dwarfed the fruits of others, like the raspberries (they are very flavorful regardless).

During the previous two growing seasons, we were members of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm and picked up our share weekly. Meanwhile, we had our garden, and I also worked at a farm.

Often, the CSA harvest was generous - in spring, eight heads of lettuce as well as other early greens. Three pounds of tomatoes in August are easy to eat or freeze, but eight heads of lettuce in May after a winter of frozen venison and kale from California. My intestines aren't yet up to the digestive challenge.

We often shared our share with our friends, always feeling a little sheepish that it did not come from our garden. Sharing felt a less like a gift, and more like dropping off a rusty hibachi on Welton Street in New Brunswick - I don't want this, maybe someone else does, I am sick of this, but it is too good to toss, wow, someone does want this. The rusty hibachi and the 7th head of deer tongue lettuce is gone to good homes.

Drive up to the farm, collect three pounds of tomatoes, a bunch of scallions, a bunch of cilantro, kale, chard, potatoes. Drive away.

Our garden was neglected. The CSA was easy, and though organic, the produce was perfect. Catbirds did not peck the strawberries - the farm's woodland edge was too far away. A farmhand tossed the vole chewed potatoes and the splitting tomatoes. The greens were washed and chilled. They didn't have the tomatillo eating beetle plague that we had two years ago (this year not a problem), or at least I wasn't the one squashing each beetle by hand until sickened by the though of eating the tomatillos.

Additionally, and most compellingly, it was paid for. And, so our garden was neglected.

I could return to my Rutgers days and do a post-modern, anti-capitalistic analysis of my relationship to the local, organic CSA farm grown food. I could. That's pretty boring, however, and it's more easily said that I often put aside the pleasures and hardships of and pride in our garden.

Without the CSA, I walk to garden - I do wish it was closer - and snack on blueberries, chew on gritty purslane while weeding, watch the dragonflies, and water our recent additions: the lupines, lavender, lemon, and lemongrass.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful scene, Jared and Rachel, of blessed Illinois prairie plants. And wondrous word pictures of your garden and local produce past and present. I stroll among the plants with you in spirit.

    Carolyn

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