As our fields and harvests transition away from the tender, jubilant Spring into the fruity, cacophonic colors and flavors of Summer, we’re reminded of some of the reasons why we love this CSA model and eating from the farm.
First, we eat with the seasons. Perhaps nothing dictates what is on our tables more than the tilt of the Earth. And as you have seen, the shares of early June are very different from those of late July. The Spring, with it’s softer waxing light, lends itself to tender, almost translucent softness in vegetables. Mentally compare an early Spring strawberry with it’s silky soft skin and thirst quenchingness, to the more sun hardened acid sweet candy packet strawberries of July.
Another cool thing about eating from the farm is that we get to experience the full arc of plant growth — from fresh onions to cured onions; from baby carrots to mondo carrots; from garlic scapes to fully cured bulbs — and all the flavors and textures in between. In the supermarket and wholesale vegetable industry, buyers only accept, and are often only offered, produce of a certain size and shape... in other words, produce that is at a particular growth stage when it is harvested. In this way, vegetables have become standardized and rote. But out on the farm, life is happening. In our harvests here, we are beholden to these growth arcs and get see and cook and taste all stages of plant growth.
We also love that this model allows us the chance to distribute damaged produce and to share over abundant harvests with members for preservation. Older cultures, local land based cultures, were scrupulously efficient in their use of food because they had to be. There was a use for everything. And it was a duty to preserve the abundance of Summer. In this spirit, we put out the damaged garlic — split and cracked in harvest, but still perfectly good in Eggplant Parmesan. And in this spirit we’ve offered pickling turnips, the pickling cucumbers, and will offer pickling beets and kraut cabbage (and more) to come, as the fields overflow.
But perhaps our favorite thing about this model and about eating from the farm is an unsung hero: Limits. Yes, limits. Scarcity. Not having something. “Limit: 1 per share.”
We live in a time and a place where we can get just about any food, anytime, en masse, if you can afford it. Tomatoes in February. Melons in the Winter. Mangos in Sebastopol. We have conquered seasons and limits and scarcity.
But have we also conquered one of the simplest pleasures in life? What is the fulfillment of desire without a longing to precede it?
We are about to enter the time of year of unlimited tomatoes *knock on wood*. But leading up this moment, we’ve cherished our 1 or 2 or 3 tomatoes. After seven, tomato-less months, that first juicy sweet acid slice of heirloom tomato on an open faced sandwich brought back a flood of memories of last summer, and summers before that, and we smiled at our loved ones in our shared remembrance and shared enjoyment of this thing that we have now, but did not have for so long. It brought us together.
In most (all?) cultures there are festivals celebrating this moment. Basically, giant parties celebrating the return of a food. In Southern France there is a Spring festival marking the return of the egg, when the hens finally start laying again. Finally. What is cake without eggs!? In Sebastopol, we have the Apple Blossom festival.
Limits, scarcity, the lean times help us appreciate, really appreciate, what we have. Life's fleeting nature is really it's spice. So it goes for food, we'd say.
We hope you been enjoying the harvest season so far here at Green Valley Community Farm! And as we head together into the peak-of-the-peak of the harvest season, let us remember the lean times, and be grateful and it will all taste that much sweeter.
See you in the fields,
David & Kayta