Feeding a community

When my Mom wrote her memoir last year, I read with interest the chapter about getting ready for winter in the village. During the summer, the cannery was the family enterprise, running morning, noon, and night while produce is coming in. Well, that’s it, I thought, any fool with a spade and watering can have tomatoes, peppers, and squash coming out his ears in July and August, but who has good vitamins all year round? That’s what community gardens aren’t doing.


Well, I had a source of tomatoes and herbs from a community garden that wasn’t being taken care of. I had worked in July and August to beat weeds out of the berries and wherever they grew really, but no one was picking, so I could have what I wanted. So, Joy wants to freeze tomato sauces. Of course, get ready for winter! Have a steaming lasagna at the planning meeting! Just the cheer for a freezing night!


So, I keep bringing tomatoes and peppers and Italian seasonings like basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, that she could dry. And I don’t know what all she made with that, but she learned to make pasta, sauce, and relish all using tomatoes. Then on Labor Day the supermarkets have farm contracts on fresh corn coming in and prices drop. I’ve learned to pay attention to products and prices. So, I got a deal on a case of corn. I bought it.


So, Paris helped Joy and I shuck. I had grown up shucking. I like shucking. Paris learned to shuck that day. Then I helped Joy take it off the cob. It’s in the freezer.


The next order of business is planting the winter cover crops. The extension is recommending a mixture of rye and hairy vetch as a soil builder for the raw Piedmont dirt. It will draw pollinators in sprung and feed chickens after that. The extension gave me several bags of seeds and I was at that through October, tilling with various hand tools and sowing by hand, as the ancients did in every culture. It was a very deep feeling, to be under the surface of culture into a more common level of experience. These works bring on a feeling of peace and accomplishment.


So, we have a field of rye sprouting and onions and winter greens ready to plant, and apples to be made into sauce and butter. Joy got them from a farm. They have green peels with black spots. That’s what food is supposed to look like! They’re really good apples!


It’s a start. We’re learning what to do. We feel the need to go back to being a community that can feed itself. Then came the supply chain problems. Yes, we have to have good and varied foods, all year long. We’ve made a start.

“It’s a start. We’re learning what to do. We feel the need to go back to being a community that can feed itself.”


By: Ed Lyons, Board Member, Hope to Thrive

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