@EatingWell RT @julienegrin: Nat’l Gardening Assoc: 43 mill planted backyard garden or has share in community garden in ’09, up from 36 mil in ’08
To translate for those who do not use Twitter… @EatingWell is Re-tweeting @julienegrin’s orignal tweet about statistics from the National Gardening Association. Apparently, the number of backyard and community gardens has increased dramatically in the past year.
We don’t have that kind of garden, and it would be difficult for us to have one, given the layout (we’re on a corner), the amazing number of old-growth trees, and the narrow strips of sloping lawn that we’d have to till, since raised beds might not be feasible. Still, I did plant some window boxes around the deck with a few flowering items and some herbs. Unfortunately, the weather was soooo bad this year that nothing is really flourishing as it should be in August. There are some blooms on the nasturtiums and the dianthus, but their foliage is sorely lacking. The herbs fared slightly better, but not very much. Too much rain!
However, I started doing something else more regularly this year: ordering produce online and then picking it up on Friday or Saturday at a nearby local & weekend storefront. Although it’s not quite the same as subscribing to a CSA farm (Community Sustained Agriculture), this is as close as I can come to buying from a CSA. And best of all, I can pay smaller amounts weekly, rather than a large amount yearly or seasonally, and order only what I want each week… or every other week, if I have been cooking less often during the previous week.
So far, this summer, my orders have included beets (both red and golden), carrots, corn, radishes, leeks, new potatoes, cippolini onions, spring onions, mushrooms, shallots, blueberries, zucchini, various lettuces, tomatoes, and even beef short ribs a couple of times.
My agricultural source has a friendly enough online site and ordering form that includes important information, such as whether an item is local or regional, organic or the result of integrated pest management. I am comforted by the fact that they try to accommodate so many possible positions on the organic/non-organic continuum. In fact, I learned a week or two ago that they will bring in some greens during the winter from farther away, for those folks who just cannot do without them.
Greens are all good and well for those who can digest them easily… but not I. However, I am really looking forward to the fall and all of those root vegetables that I can’t always find in very good shape in the supermarket when I want to make some hearty vegetable soup. Rutabagas and turnips, in particular.
I live with a vegetarian of Italian descent, who thrives on pasta and dairy products. However, I can no longer eat either wheat or dairy, and so our kitchen life has devolved over a number of years into many frozen single-serving-sized dinners. Mine, of course, are more expensive. Soup, really good vegetable soup, is one thing that we can both eat and that we both really enjoy.
Lately, we’ve been making soup in the crock pot, in order not to heat up the kitchen and the rest of the houses, but when fall and winter return, I’ll return to the stove top, so I can sweat each layer of vegetables in a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of Herba-mare, before I add the canned tomatoes, stock, water, wine or any other liquids and allow it to simmer a bit with a few herbs. The crock pot soup is good enough, but it is not up to the same standard as the soup that happens when I spend some time at the stove.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to purchase all of our produce from this local and regional source. After all, we do buy bananas and avocados, too, but I hope to make it the primary source of our produce and buy fewer and fewer such items in the supermarket.
In order to make that happen, I am beginning to cook more… which is another story. And another blog post.