First Summer Workday

Today we had our first workday of the summer on a beautiful, warm day that finally decided to live up to the season. We have high hopes that the recent Charlottesville monsoons are winding down for good, although I don’t think Grace or I minded a few days off from watering the beds. The rain has been so plentiful its had an impressive effect on the growth of our radishes.

It’s hard to tell, but that radish pictured on the right is the size of a tennis ball–a fresh, organic tennis ball that goes great on a salad.

First, an introduction is in order. The garden interns this summer are yours truly, Grace and Elise. We’re excited to be rocking our garden hats and getting our hands in the dirt alongside the awesome community that has flourished around this green space. We’re all smiles.

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Today we cleaned up the turnip beds, which had quite a few fallen stalks trampled by torrential downpour. Of the ones that did survive, you can chalk their persistence up to their unusual height and leafiness. Our turnips are very robust above ground but lacking below. We unfortunately have tiny turnips to eat, but we do have great leafy stalks that would go great as a center piece at the dinner table! Their strange growth is a garden mystery, and I’m sure it won’t be the first we’ll experience this summer.

Luckily, we had lots of bib lettuce, radish, and kale to harvest!

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We had some great volunteers to tackle some weedy grass that infiltrated the herb and asparagus beds. And perhaps most exciting of all, we planted the winter squash. We’re crossing our fingers that our squash will wind up as orange and enticing as the seed package promises.

A brief reflection:

“Neither nature nor people alone can produce human sustenance, but only the two together, culturally wedded.” -Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America

This quote from Berry’s work is embedded in a larger passage about the danger of being an “exploiter,” one whose principle is to divide and conquer, whose goal is profit, and whose competence is organization. To be a “nurturer,” on the other hand, is to work as well as possible, to shoot for personal, communal, and national health, and to be guided by an understanding and respect for the human order, which includes the accommodation of compassion and mystery.

The particular line above stuck out to me because of the word choice: “human sustenance.” I’d like to think that Wendell wasn’t just talking about eating food.  Growing and harvesting food gives the mind a sense of place, and working for that growth and sharing the harvest with others feeds (ha ha puns) our human desire for connection.

When you work in a garden, you realize that food is more than the end product picked from the fruit stand at Kroger. Participating in the process of growing food allows us to experience all that food has to offer–not just a nourishment of our physical bodies, but of our deeper selves, too.

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