Carrots, Kale, and Local Food

The summer garden is getting into full swing here at the end of May.  During our workday this Friday, we planned for new crops in the empty beds as Spring plants begin to die back.  Tomatoes are chief on the agenda, but variation selection is always tricky, only because we want everything!  The squash we planted on Tuesday will still take a week or so the sprout, but we put in some good bush beans around the peas, which should be great.  The kale and collards are still absolutely beautiful, and hopefully we’ll keep harvesting those for a while longer.

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Weeding is also becoming a chief concern now that we have so much sun after weeks of rain.  They’re popping up everywhere!  We also thinned back the cosmic purple carrots, which based on the ones we pulled out, should be stunning!  Thinning them out will give the other carrots space to grow even bigger and more delicious.

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It’s exciting to see the new strawberries in bloom, and the lima beans and fava beans starting to come in.  There are even a few green berries starting to pop up! Can’t wait to see how those turn out. We had fewer volunteers at the garden on Friday than on Tuesday, but still got some good work done, because we are very serious garden professionals, as exemplified below.

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This week, I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which, in the interest of full disclosure, is a book I’ve read before, but I figured would be a good way to step back into the world of sustainable agriculture.  I’m only about half way through it, but already I’m on a local food kick. Kingsolver is absolutely right about food quality when it comes to seasonality.  We may have access to any food in any season here in America, but none of it is truly great unless it’s been recently picked and minimally handled.

That’s why it’s hard to put a finger on truly American cuisine, outside of McDonalds and processed sugar. An abundance of choices comes at the price of specificity, which is a shame because limited variety in food supplies throughout the year usually leads to great recipes, along the lines of “necessity is the mother of invention.” I’ve already discovered several groceries and butchers around Charlottesville with great local food, and plan to patronize them as often as possible this summer and try to stay in season.

Our first day working on the farm was Thursday.  The main thing I’ve learned is that organic vegetable gardening is by far the most labor intensive form of farming.  Elise and I were exhausted by the end of the day, but in the best way possible.  Picking fresh fruit from their strawberry field for lunch has only reaffirmed my love for fresh, local, in season produce, which is Bellair Farm’s specialty.  I have to say, you have not lived until you’ve eaten fresh summer strawberries still warm from the sun.

Until next week, greetings from the Garden Crew!

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-Grace

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