Tomatoes galore

Yesterday, we had a workday filled with tomato planting! Bellair Farm, a large organic vegetable operation close to Charlottesville, gave us some great tomato transplants they’d been nurturing in their green house. These guys were looking a little wilted and starting to get too big for their plastic pods. Since they’d never make it to field at Bellair, we gladly took the plants off their hands and made a home for them in the community garden. We’ve got some sungolds, some heirlooms, and some mystery tomatoes because we forgot to label the last container. We’ve got to add some thrill to the garden life some how, ya know??

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In other news, we’ve got some snap peas coming in and a juneberry bush that is this close to giving us some ripe ones.

This week I’d like to share a snap shot from Bellair. Grace and I’s internship with the community garden includes two days a week at this gorgeous thousand acre estate. Included on that property is an organic vegetable farm that services a CSA. There are 425 shareholders that get fed from the farm each week May through October, and a 200 person waiting list! It’s an exciting example of a successful sustainable agriculture operation.

Farming is pretty hard and includes a lot of repetitive tasks–i.e. you plant, you weed, or you harvest. There ends up being a lot of conversation in the fields, and Bellair has a great permanent work crew that we’ve been getting to know. I’ve been pretty amazed at the quality of conversation I’ve had under the sun, with garlic juice staining my raw fingers as we all pick scapes. One of the crew members new to the squad this year even mentioned experiencing “brain fry.” In addition to an adjustment period during which his body had to acclimate to the difficult labor, there was an adjustment period for his brain too! I’m not sure whether it’s a farming environment, where we’re all together working on a task humans have practiced for thousands of years, or maybe it’s just the people that are attracted to such an activity. Either way, our chatter reflects broad interests in food culture, politics, and living an exciting and meaningful life.

While the UVA Community Garden is certainly a smaller operation, I think it has a similar potential to encourage real camaraderie. Besides wanting a successful harvest, Grace and I hope we can see a summer community created. Come on out to one of our volunteer workdays and leave with a clear and happy head and a bag of kale and peas. It’s win-win.

-Elise

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