After flower-box burnout several summers running, I opted not to plant any type of living thing this summer in a garden, flower box or other. For some, this is unfathomable. For me, it’s being realistic. And ironically since I’ve let go of abundant garden dreams, two other opportunities have come my way.
The first is the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) I just joined. Our family now gets a weekly delivery from Hay River Farms in Wisconsin. Second is the community garden – Bethany Gardens – my son’s school started this past winter (indoors) and spring (planting outdoors). Our family can sign up for times to help with gardening tasks per the direction of a master gardener. For now, I like to think I’m working backwards a bit and maybe someday I will have the tools and experience to have my own successful garden.
Through the CSA we get about 20 different items a week, about half of them are known. Most are a variation of a well-known veggie. Take for example the yellow cucumbers, golden beets and red garlic. With each delivery, an email lists the items, some simple ways to prep them and links to a video Farmer Jim creates each week. Jim is living the dream from Farm to Table as they say. Recently we received some good tips on how to best store the veggies (the highly scientific spritz of water, insert into fridge) and dismantle the veggie box for reuse. In the first three weeks, I’ve used about 75% of the box. I plan to improve on this.
The school-based community supported garden is in Richfield. Child garden labor is cheap, textural (water and dirt make mud after all) and couldn’t be more rewarding for the students at Augsburg Park Montessori School (AMPS). The kids agree on what to plant and all pitch in daily during the school year in gardening activities, in the early phases, just observing and talking the plants into growing in their indoor greenhouse stand. At age 6, my son has totally surpassed my gardening abilities.
On a high heat-index July eve, we took our list of four to-dos from Megan, the master gardener, fetched our gardening gloves (mine looked to be in very good condition) and headed to the garden. We arrived later than we planned on purpose, due to the heat. Quite honestly, we only got the watering done. Then I had a meeting at the school. So I guess technically I only rolled out the garden hose and turned on the water. Calvin, my son, took care of the rest. He also told me all about composting and was eager to check out what was in the bin.
He hadn’t been back to his school since May, so he was pretty elated to see the tomato plants towering over him. He recalled planting melon and pumpkins. There were peas, the beginnings of corn and basil that I could safely id. I know the other families had worked hard to get it to this point. At any rate, Calvin’s anticipation of gardening and excitement upon seeing the fruits of his labor was inspiration enough for me. We need to return in cooler temps to finish items #2-4. Calvin did comment, disappointment in his voice, “Wow, Mom, we really didn’t do much gardening.”
Possibly the convergence of the CSA and CSG will max out my gardening and culinary capabilities, which I’d be okay with. At least my kids will have some knowledge and experience in both areas. And going forward, I’d have them to share in the work and enjoy rewards. Or take the blame for a bad crop. I hope they’re taking good notes.