I knew I was a bit more passionate about growing vegetables than some, or even most, people but I did not realise that the reason may well be that a lot of people just are not very excited about vegetables, full stop.
I spent the morning gardening in a lush and productive vegetable garden belonging to one of our Wednesday gardening group. One of the jobs was to remove an enormous, but evidently not very good, artichoke. Chatting to one of the others, we thought that this might have been a cardoon, so long and thick were its leaf stalks and this would account for its earlier crop of small but plentiful “artichokes”.
After a good time digging all the way to China to get to the bottom of its root system, we divided it up and I removed most of the lush growth, so that the offshoots could be given away, if anyone wanted them. I stood there on that hillside, looking down at the patchwork of farms in the picturesque valley below, my thoughts constantly interrupted by a cow insisting on attention on the other side of the veg garden fence. The wind was cold but I was in the lea of a wall and the sun was warm. Life sometimes is amazingly good.
I stripped off the celery-like strings of one of the “artichoke” leaf stalks and bit into it to see if it was edible. Wow, I thought, this is crisp, incredibly juicy and very edible; a great celery substitute for winter. I called over Frances for a bite and she agreed, very edible and nice. So I gathered some of the juiciest looking leaf stalks for everyone to take home and eat and prepared one for them all to try while we had morning tea a bit later.
When the coffee gong sounded I took our discovery and sliced it up like celery, put it all into a bowl and offered it around….. silence…. “it tastes like nothing”…..”not very interesting is it”….and then..… “oh greens…. yeah I must try to get to like them.”
What!? I am still so stunned I cannot think what to write. Here was a discovery for adding a juicy crunch to winter salads the length and breadth of the Huon Valley and only Sandra was at all interested. Greens…. well, what do you eat if you don’t eat greens? There’s a limit to the number of potatoes and carrots I can eat…. my meals are full of greens from my garden of every sort, from Asia to America and European cultures. My life would be empty without greens and arms full of herbs, in soups, salads, casseroles and served with or for every meal.
The penny dropped…. is this why people are not passionate about growing food like I am? Is this why only Frances and I wanted to work in the vegetable garden while everyone else chose other jobs? Do I need to change my approach and, instead of offering to show people how to grow vegetables, I first need to show them how to eat them?
It has been in my mind for a year or so….a new workshop in my kitchen….
”Cook with me from My Garden”
Every week (summer) or maybe month (winter, when things grow so slowly) a small group of people would come and gather food from my garden and together we would make it into a deliciously simple but tasty and healthy meal in my kitchen, and then eat together. I would help people shop from their gardens; seeing their gardens (or even the new local, seasonal greengrocer “The Cygnet Garden Larder”) as their primary source of food. I would show them my cookbooks, arranged by season or alphabetically by ingredient and how invaluable it is to be able to get ideas for cooking with whatever is available.
Below right….winter salad from my garden…irresistible, I think!
I have to be prepared for resistance….. I have to encourage and educate sweetly (oh dear)….
I am determined to offer wellness, vitality and an uplifted spirit…
Of all the things I do with gusto and success, this is the one I have the most passion for and the one I am most nervous about, at the same time.
Life is good….. but a whole lot better with home grown greens and herbs everyday.