This is a great time of year to be a part of an alternative food culture, particularly if that alternative food culture is the local, chemical-free group and you live in southeastern Virginia and it’s early July.
Right now we’re harvesting potatoes. I helped hand dig one huge basket full today, which I brought in and rinsed off while separating the seed potatoes from the eatin’ potatoes. It was a tough call on some of them…exactly how small was I willing to go before calling it a seed? As it worked out those that were the approximate size of a Scuppernong grape went into the eatin’ pile, smaller ones went into the seed tray.
Last week we got enough tomatoes to eat all we wanted, donate several pounds to the food efforts at Wayside’s welcome party and dehydrate all our trays would hold. The dried discs will go into Turkish olive oil that is being imported by a friend and then will be frozen in saved tomato paste jars. These I will break out and put into salads, soups and my mouth all the winter long.
This is one day’s haul from our garden. Cherries, Roma’s, round tomatoes I’ve lost track of the name of and a lovely Brandywine here and there which I always immediately slice and consume. Eggplants, jalapenos, corno del torros, carrots and shelly beans (variety also misplaced just now).
I’m a fly-by-night gardener. I know what’s out there. I saved the damned seed packets so that when I save the seed from the plants I’ll know what I’ve got. But when I’m eating it, I really don’t care what it’s name was. I simply want it to be healthy, chemical free, fresh and delicious. I want this just as much in February as July, maybe more. This is why we grow and preserve what we can and also why we expand every year.
This is one week’s worth of CSA produce. Our CSA is $31.50 per week, including tax and this is our first week participating. I suppose, from what I’ve read/heard in the past about CSAs we can expect about one brown paper bag full of produce each week that the CSA is open. I decided to try this for several reasons: I’m nosey and want to see what it’s all about; I want to meet people who love local, seasonal, chemical free food as much as I do; I want to pad out our own garden produce and hopefully sample some new things that grow well in our area and which we may want to plant next year; I have to experience things, not just read about them, in order to fully understand them; I detest grocery stores and only have to go into one about once a month; when I cook supper and sit down to a meal of produce and meat grown by people whose faces I know intimately, even they are not related to me, I feel incredibly satisfied and yes, righteous. I can feel something in the world click into it’s own perfect place.
There is one more thing we do to access local food. We order almost every week from Coastal Farms. Coastal is awesome. They have brought together local producers from throughout our area who provide everything from produce to seafood, lamb skins to sugar scrubs, jelly to soaps–all locally produced by small producers. They deliver to several locations from Virginia Beach to Isle of Wight County. You order and pay online and pick your food up on Thursday afternoon. Simple and wonderful. I have been *thrilled* with the quality of the products we have received from these producers.
For our family, the balance is good between Coastal, CSA and our own produce. Of course we’d like to spend less money and produce more of our own but that would mean more work than we have time to do just now. Slicing into a juicy, ripe tomato warm from the garden, sprinkling it with a few grains of salt and slipping it between my lips, tasting the tang and savor of it I am thankful for all of these good things. I’m also looking forward to eating some of those potatoes.