Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dreaming of Spring

"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green."

~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses From An Old Manse

We signed up for our CSA program today, and I am so incredibly excited.

For those of you not familiar with them, Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA programs, are programs in which you pay a certain amount of money up front and buy a "share" in a farm. Then once a week during the growing season you go and pick up your box of freshly picked fruit, vegetables, and-- depending on the farm-- herbs, cut flowers, and eggs.

We chose Pigman's Organic Produce Patch-- a farm about 15 minutes from our house. If you live anywhere in the Puget Sound area, I would highly recommend them. Since Jer will be deployed and Connor eats minuscule amounts of veggies, I'm splitting a half-share of produce with a couple of friends. Beginning in June, for around $7.50 a week, I'll be getting five months of seasonal organic produce (Over 50 different kinds!) freshly picked just for me. This is such a ridiculously low price that I sort of feel like I'm getting away with something.

We drove out to the farm to check things out this afternoon, and the wonderful Jan Pigman not only gave us a tour of the farm and pointed out where everything would be growing, but she sent us home with a huge bag of freshly picked "seconds" carrots-- those that are a little too crooked to send to the store, but taste perfectly fine. She told us that we're allowed to drop by the farm any time to see how things are coming along.

I guess one of the reasons I'm so excited about this is that Connor will have the chance to see where food comes from. I do some modest front yard vegetable gardening, and a couple of the kids down the street happened to come by while I was pulling onions. The following conversation occurred:

Kid 1: What're you doin?
Me: I'm digging up onions.
Kid 1: Onions grow in the ground?
Me: Yep!
Kid 2: They have dirt on them. And they're red.
Me: Yep!
Kid 1: That's gross. Why don't you just get them at the store?
Me: Um.....those onions come from the ground too.
Kid 1: They do?
Kid 2: Eww. I'm never eating onions again.

This conversation scared the bejeezus out of me. Lord knows what they would have done if I'd shown them the purple carrots.

I don't want Connor thinking that onions magically appear in those mesh bags at the grocery store. I want him to know that tomatoes come in more colors and flavors than red and watery. And somehow I have this idea that even if he never makes the connection between the fields we visit and what goes on our table, that being surrounded by growing and thriving things will be good for him, will maybe help him grow and thrive too.

Someday, years and years from now, I want to have a little straw bale house with a thatched roof and a huge backyard garden. I want wide, paved paths with big garden beds of all shapes and sizes ranging from ground level to adult wheelchair height. I will grow all sorts of edible plants with beautiful scents and colors-- dwarf apple trees just the right height for little hands to reach the fruit, nasturtiums and pansies, strawberries and blueberries, rosemary and lavender hedges. There'll be little shady corners with low benches for resting tired little legs, and a gently sloping hill covered in creeping thyme for rolling down. Then I'll throw open the gates and let all of the therapy centers and birth-to-three programs and schools bring their children in to touch everything and play and eat and explore.

That may be an impossible dream, what with liability issues and allergies and zoning laws and money and all the other things that could stand in the way. But I can dream. And in the meantime, I can take my little one out to the farm, kneel in the rows with him on my lap and the sun gently warming our backs, and say: "Look, honey, this is a strawberry plant, and here are the flowers, and here are some baby strawberries, and here is a nice ripe one waiting for us."

See. Feel. Taste. Grow.




Lucas'Mommy said...

I'll be there when you get your little straw bale house with a thatched roof and a huge backyard garden! How delightful sounding! We have a couple of farm co-ops around us too... how fun!

Julia O'C said...

I was just talking to my husband last night about our garden.

Here in Pittsburgh, we have several community gardens. The biggest liability seems to be from vandals (though why someone would want to trash a vegetable garden is beyond me). Your dream sounds beautiful - and fully possible.

Renate said...

Short time lurker posting for the first time. I don't remember how I came to your site, but since I have a special needs granddaughter (Prader-Willi Syndrome), I'm interested on how you deal with your special little one. As far as the farm goes, do they let you specify any particular items you don't want? There are certain items hubby just won't eat; i.e., Brussel Sprouts, Turnips, etc.

Connor's Mom said...

Lucas'Mommy: Someday it will happen! I really, really like straw bale houses-- they're so solid, which is totally counter-intuitive for a house built of, well, straw, but oh well. I'll invite you guys over for the first crop of spring greens. :)

Julia: I love community gardens! We don't have any in our immediate area, but my grandparents down in Texas have a pretty good-sized plot in one near their house. I love the ones that do the "Plant a Row For The Hungry" program, where you grow an extra row of crops for local food banks. You can teach your kids about food AND altruism-- what more do you want? I have no idea why someone would want to vandalize one-- maybe they just really, really don't like broccoli.

Renate: Thanks for stopping by! The farm that we're using will let you exchange one or two items-- usually it's a good idea to tell them in advance, but they're pretty flexible. Otherwise you could always try trading with another family-- about 50 pick up on the farm so there are usually a few there at the same time. It probably depends on the program you're using.

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