Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our farm

Earlier in the year, we signed up for a row in the community garden behind our house. Just behind our house, there is a wheat farm. The farmer rents out a piece of this land to the community each year. He tills the ground for us in April, we plant and tend through November and then he turns it over again. Taking into account school and vacations and bad weather, it ends up being a rather short growing season. While our harvest has not been large, it sure has been a lot of fun to try.
We signed up on line and in early spring Phil attended a meeting with the other local gardeners and the farmer. Rules were discussed. There were many but the only two I remember are to not use pesticides and to not grow too many sunflowers as they block the sunlight to other rows. All seemed fine until we actually got our 50 meter row and had to start.
The start was throwing rocks out of our row. The soil here is very rocky, definitely not the black earth of Ukraine. Then we started fighting the encroachment of grass. Our row, perhaps distributed alphabetically, was the first and thus closest to the grass and the bike path. The kids were eager gardeners at different stages of the process. Adam was great at throwing rocks. Royce was a diligent weeder. The untidiness of our row disturbed her sense of balance. Tori was a good planter, starting with a good twenty five meter section of squash and pumpkins. All enjoyed the watering. We filled bottles with water from the river and walked it back to our row, usually spilling most or throwing it on each other. Luckily it rains here and our plants were not entirely dependent on us for water.
We grew radishes, lettuce, carrots, squash and pumpkins plus a few flowers. The kids enjoyed seeing the plants grow and realizing a carrot was actually a root vegetable and not just the pre-cut pre-washed baby carrots they had grown up on (which by the way, are not available in Germany). Once the squash kicked into gear, we started giving it away to friends. Then to music teachers. Then to people we met on the street. And the kids started eating it. Zuchini has long been an abhorred vegetable in our house. I remember we use to do a big clapping ritual if they ate it. Now it is a daily fixture, eaten without fanfare or even notice.
The whole experience has been a good one and we are keen to sign up again next year. The only sad moment came when we recently went to check on our pumpkins, particularly two large ones that we had been closely watching. We found two of them missing and a track of people trampling the grass along our row. The kids were despondent and even I felt tears pricking my eyes. We had just weeding and watered those pumpkins the day before. We started to speculate about who would steal pumpkins. The thought was that if it was just a prank the pumpkins would have been smashed on the bike path but they weren’t. The next thought was that someone took them to eat them. This line of reasoning mollified all of us. Feeding someone in the community,even if not us, had to be what a community garden was all about in the end anyway.


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