Buy Local: Veggie Heaven

Posted by on August 12, 2011

When Mindy mentioned her garden-share program last winter, I signed up immediately.   Although there have been a few of these opportunities emerging in other parts of our province , this was the first I had heard of in my rural area and I was thrilled to support her endeavours (and to supplement my own struggling garden plot).

Truthfully, I’ve not had a great amount of success with veggie gardening.  Three plantings of carrots resulted in vibrant rows of emerging greenery that practically disappeared overnight, while the slugs got fatter. One lonely carrot remains, stalwart and strong. (Two years ago, my single carrot grew so big, that we ate it for two meals.) Three rows of lettuce and spinach brought me two bunches of lettuce and three of spinach.  The slugs multiplied.

I think I need chickens…or attack hens.

Then, the flea beetles attacked my bean plants. The few that survived that onslaught struggled valiantly through a wet spring and summer, but I was excited to see beans beginning to form.

A deer passing through got the first sampling. She pruned my peas at the same time. Thankfully, she didn’t appear to like beet greens. Perhaps she was full.

But, in the midst of all of this, Mindy arrives weekly with a box of the finest vegetables and herbs I’ve ever purchased.

From the beginning, I knew this was a good idea, but what surprises me is the sweet anticipation and flutter of excitement that comes with receiving my box. It’s like a surprise gift arriving at my door every week. I’m never sure what will be in it, but Mindy has ensured quality, variety and quantity. She is such a delight.

And, I’ve had a chance to regularly eat vegetables that I would have rarely purchased otherwise – swiss chard, kohlrabi, gorgeous beet greens, fresh aromatic garlic, crispy kale…

It has sent me scouring the Internet for recipes to try and has introduced much more variety into our meals. I’m thoroughly enjoying washing, chopping, experimenting and cooking the vegetables that grow in the soil of the land I call home.  We are gorging ourselves on fresh lettuce and I’m trying new combinations for salads. The colours, flavours and aroma seem even better than what comes from my own garden.

Although I will always grow my own (or try to), there is a certain elation that comes from supporting Mindy and being able to show my appreciation for her hard work. My heart smiles when I see the life she is building with her family here. She says her girls love to go to the garden with her to pick vegetables. I can imagine them all together, washing and sorting and packaging each box. What valuable lessons they are learning.

Our area, which was traditionally a vibrant agricultural area, fell away from farming in the 50s and 60s as young people left the family farms to find work in the cities. Communities shrunk and services disappeared. We are now making a comeback with young people like Mindy, who want to raise their families in the healthy rural environment.

A few years ago, local producers gathered together to start the Foods of the Fundy Valley and since then, have organized several Buy Local dinner events and established a farmer’s market with baked goods, artisan breads, crafts, fresh local produce  and meat.  Their initiative goes beyond encouraging local producers…it is pulling the community together, building connections between neighbours, and keeping money here in the county.

But most important of all is the spirit of community, strength and hope that emerges when we all work together and support one another.

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