October 14, 2011

Feed the body, feed the soul

Something I've missed about living on land is having a garden. Oh, sure, you can put pots on the deck for boat style patio gardening- but that's highly impractical while cruising. Aside from the harsh environment (salt spray is foe to the hardiest!), quarantine in most countries generally won't welcome live plants.

Thanks to a friend at work with an interest in permaculture, we became connected to a community garden in our area.

community garden
Many moons ago: radishes lining the bed of Tuscan kale.

It's a little different from the usual plot system in Seattle "P-Patch" or most other community gardens. This operates entirely as a collective: there is no Yours and Mine. Participants share all the work, and share everything produced. On Sunday mornings, we take the bus to the other side of our district and meet up with other volunteers around 10. We work until about 1, with a generous break for midday tea. As we get ready to depart, the fruits, and herbs which were harvested are on a table, and we each take what we need, with an eye on ensuring something for everyone. A few dollars contributed each time to help cover expenses, which is also funded by the North Sydney Community Council

We've had the obvious benefit: really, really good food. It's just so very much more than this, though.

It's a community of truly lovely people, who have been a gift to get to know. Carol, below, is our matriarch.

helping pull cauliflower
Pulling out cauliflower is hard work!

The break for tea usually includes scones or other homemade goodies from a member. We make tea from a mix of herbs in the garden: kaffir lime leaves, lemon thyme, sage, or whatever is handy.

tea time at the garden

It's when we sit with our fellow gardeners, and chew on issues bigger than the cutworm crisis over a cuppa.

garden community

The kids claim teatime is their favorite part, but I know it's more than that, too. It's about how proud Niall is of the meaningful contributions he makes- putting nets over our tamarillo trees, or constructing the tomato trellis. How Mairen loves ferreting every last little cutworm in a bed, and dedicating it to a bucket for some hungry chickens. Siobhan's pride in having what see sees as utter and complete ownership of the eggplant harvest (although truly, she sees fruits we missed completely).

tomato trellis

And then, of course, there are usually dogs.

there are usually dogs
Few things better than an adoring canine fix.

Over the last nine months, the children have been able to harvest vegetables from plants that they started from seeds. Really understanding how to produce your own food is a valuable life skill. They also know what real, good, organic produce should look like... and they compare that to what we see in the supermarket.

So much more nourishment than you'd think, from a pile of fresh greens.

early spring haul
Siobhan preps the haul of an early spring harvest at home: cauliflower, peas, lettuce, parsnips, kale, pansies, rutabaga, chard, lots of herbs... I think there's a daikon hiding in there, too.

5 comments:

  1. What a wonderful experience for your children to have! Oh, and what time should I arrive for dinner?

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  2. Totem...
    I am so happy for your kids - we, too, miss our garden and grasshopper hungry chickens. I have one anemic basil plant that I have barely managed to keep alive on board. I have heard about garden co-ops like this one; it's great to hear how well they really work!

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  4. Totem Family,
    We love the experiences your children are having. Having grown up out in the country with gardens, we know the value of this lifestyle. As we are preparing to head back to the Caribbean in two week, I wonder about getting fresh foods in the lesser islands.
    Fair Winds,
    Sherry & Dennis

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  5. I love this post. What a wonderful idea and a great way to make friends in your neighborhood while you are there!

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