It's harvest time. Farmers and gardeners across Nova Scotia are beginning to harvest the delicious veggies they have been growing over the summer.
Some of these folks have been growing vegetables to make a living; some have been doing it for yummy supper-time additions. I can only guess that all are doing it with a sense of pride and love of the work.
I snapped the above photo a few years ago when I was visiting my parents and my mother was making chow. These tomatoes were grown in Truro by my sister's father-in-law. He grows a small garden for the love of growing. My mother, 225 kilometers away, turned them into chow. She made the chow for the love of cooking and sharing. The chow was shared with friends, family and neighbors near and far. For me, these tomatoes represent community.
They also represent a sense of team work. While the man who grew the tomatoes is skilled at gardening, his chow making skills are, well, limited. So, my mother, whose kitchen skills are not to be underestimated, got to work. Team work after all, is all about varied skills coming together to create something wonderful.
Swiss chard is one of my favorite veggies. The photo above is a personal favorite from my galleries.
It is difficult for me to think about swiss chard without remembering my childhood neighbor. My house surrounded a small cove along the Atlantic Ocean and the other houses that surrounded that cove were in clear view of each other. Almost like a fish-bowl. So, when I would go out to play in the yard our neighbor across the way would see me, and she would step out on her deck and yell across the way, "Amanda, do you want some cu-calm-bers?" That's how she said it. Cu-calm-bers. Her name was Beatrice Richard and she was a sweet little Acadian French woman with a huge heart and warm smile. I don't remember going over to get the "cu-calm"bers" without leaving with a large bunch of swiss chard as well. The cucumbers would be offered to me in a bag, and the swiss chard on invite of picking for myself from her garden.
That is the generosity of a rural gardener. It was one of the moments in my childhood that instilled in me a true sense of community. And it is the sharing that for me defines a community garden.
Incidentally, Beatrice since passed away and I haven't heard her voice in person for over 10 years or more - but hers is one that I randomly hear in my mind. And then I see her in her red sweater, waving from the deck of your seaside home. And I smile. Cu-calm-bers.....
I currently work with someone who, in addition to his full time job in Halifax, runs a small rural farm in New Ross. Each morning (hours before I even dream of waking) he and his wife gather the ready-to-be-picked vegetables from their one-acre of farm land and bring them into work. They sell their produce at prices that are almost equal to giving it away. Their goal: to make delicious, nutritious, chemical-free produce available at a low price, to folks who live in the city. Their benefit: the joy of farming. The sense of community that their offerings create at my workplace is just an added bonus.
While the folks I have mentioned in this post harvest community along with their veggies, I remain thankful for all those who work to grow, and share, food. If you ate today, thank a farmer.
*The last photo in this post is courtesy of Dave Meister. It is a photo of his farm in New Ross.