Garden of Growth

Last week, Chad and I spent a few hours composting hundreds upon hundreds of seedlings. Now, I understand from a business perspective that, as a farmer, you have to overplant in case something happens. I also understand that it takes a scarce commodity, time, to find appropriate homes for them. Composting it is . . . unless you have an intern that feels almost more tenderly for abandoned plants than for abandoned puppies.

Here are just a few of the plants I filled my car with to bring home, and I barely rescued any:

There’s a nearby church that has garden plots for the community, and after planting some around the Vista House, I called up the pastor and procured a space!

I had to lay down newspaper and cardboard to kill the weeds . . .

. . . before I ran out. Then I poached some from a dumpster behind a shopping center 😉

Filled completely, sprinkled with fertilizer (and one happy gardener):

I then had to let it rest a week. According to the people in charge of the garden at the church, the soil they got needed added nitrogen. After talking to Roddy and Chad, however, I was skeptical about this addition and am hopeful that my plants don’t get burned by too much.

My little rescues went back in the car after a week of rest and water at the VH (ignore the dirty socks. Comes from working on a farm . . . at least, that’s what I tell myself)

And over to the church to be planted!

Isn’t it beautiful? I planted peppers (sweet and hot), tomatoes, okra, oregano, and watermelon. I’m so excited for my plants to start producing fruit, and to not be dependent on the dining hall this fall for all of my goodies. Speaking of school food, check this out over at Food Renegade (and watch the TED talk at the end!)

Do you have a garden? 

What is in season in your region? 

Fresh Fare From the Farm

I think I may have a problem with alliteration. . . using it in excess, that is 😉

These past two weeks, I have been bringing home a stunning amount of beautiful, nutritious, fresh-from-the-field food from my internship at Greenbrier Farms. They make sure that everyone working gets to partake in the bounty of the harvest, and it’s contributed to nearly all of my meals being at least 50% local (some of them 100%)! I love eating food that I know I had a hand in harvesting, washing, and packaging earlier that week or even that morning!

These were some of my goodies last week:

That loaf of bread? GARLIC ROSEMARY! DIVINE.

This week, Roddy, one of the owners, told me to just go out in the garden before you leave and pick some of what you want . . . you know what’s out there and ready, you’re in it everyday. Isn’t food the whole point?

Why thank you sir, I believe I will! And, I believe it is!

Farm fresh eggs and crunchy yet smooth and buttery lettuce? Yes please!

This lettuce reminds me of a buttercrunch, but better! It is called kwik, I think. I used it in southwestern style lettuce wraps, and the eggs in mini, personalized frittatas. YUM!

What are some of your favorite recipes with foods in season now? 

This post is shared on: Living Green Linkup at Like  A Mustard Seed.

My First Taste

Travelers, yesterday I sampled some of the local cuisine. For the first time in over four years, I had a taste of meat.

Crazy, huh? It was chicken, and just a bite at Greenbrier. Since I’m working there, I get to see how the chickens live, and sometime this month I may get to see how they die. They live like chickens–skittish and slightly stupid, but seemingly happy out on the pasture.

I’ll have to post a series soon on my reasons for eating vegetarian, vegan, and now being open to some good farm raised animal flesh. Even eating it, I don’t think I’ll ever prepare meat for myself. Maybe when it is offered to me on the farm, or when I’m with my sister preparing her chickens, or if my other sister cooks some quality meat from the farmer’s market to share with the family . . .  But it isn’t something I particularly want.

I actually only ate about a third of the chicken showing here, if that.

It tasted fine, nothing spectacular or anything I felt like I needed. And even though I only had a bite, I felt slightly sick to my stomach about an hour after. I guess my body wasn’t acclimated to it yet.

When I got to the farm, we headed out to harvest some more spinach for the CSA that was going out yesterday. Much of my day yesterday was bagging and prepping for the CSA. I got to leave early, which was nice! I’ve been working hard, and haven’t been working out. By the time I get back to the house, I’m usually super tired. Yesterday, though, since I was done early I got to walk around the farm a bit. It was great to get a whole picture of it, and appreciate it for what it is–beautiful. I’ve been so enmeshed in washing greens, I feel like I haven’t been outside beyond the morning harvesting.

Be excited for tomorrow! I have a super tasty dish to share with you that I’m preparing for some friends tonight.

Are you particular about where your meat comes from? 

 

Looking Forward

I finish exams in TWO days. TWO DAYS, people! And the I’ll be finished with my freshman year of college. I feel like I got here two weeks ago, but have been here forever.

Last night, before I went to sleep, I was reading through my journal entries from the beginning of the year. They were vibrant and full of expectation, hope, change. They spoke about my friends now when we had first met, dreams for the future, aspirations for the year. And now, I’m about to be one fourth of the way done with my college career. Well . . . unless I decide to delay it, and go to grad school. But that is a decision for several years from now!

With that said, I wanted to let you all know what I’ll be doing this summer and what you can look forward to on the blog! I’m not going to be lazing around, relaxing in the warm sunshine all day long, mind you. I am super super excited about my summer: I know it will be a period of very spectacular growth in my life.

The month of May (starting at the end of this week!!) I will be interning with Greenbrier Farms. Greenbrier is a smaller, poly-culture farm that I actually did a research project on last semester for my Sustainability Science introductory course. Sustainable agriculture is one of my passions, and the chance to (quite literally) get my hands dirty and learn about fills me with exhilaration. It will be hard work, I hope, but definitely rewarding. I’ll probably be working in the produce gardens, helping out with events, putting together CSA bags, and working at the farmer’s market. I might not be able to take too many photos, but I’ll snap them when I can 😉

This entire summer, I’m living at a house run by our Mere Christianity Forum on Campus. It’s called the Vista House, and it is intended to a place for intentional Christian community.

In June, our Servant Scholars Program starts. I’ll be interning with United Ministries, an organization that has several programs dealing with homelessness, poverty, and adult education. I’m expecting to be thoroughly challenged and stretched by my work there.

The Vista House has an absolutely amazing kitchen, and I won’t be on any type of meal plan this entire summer! That means . . . lots of cooking. It’s where some of these beautiful communal meals took place:

This summer is going to be a great experience. I’m excited to share this part of my journey with you!

What are your summer plans? 

Nourishing our Happiness

There are many facets of health. Some are internal, such as spiritual or mental health, while others, like physical or social health, are external.  Because of the liberal arts nature of the school I attend, students are required to fulfill general education core requirements. One such requirement is “Wellness Concepts,” a course I’m currently enrolled in. It stresses the use of “wellness” over health, because the definition of health is “the state of being free of illness or injury.” Wellness, so says the argument, goes beyond simply not having health impediments but attaining an optimum level of well-being.

Health connotes well-being to me, and I don’t wish to nitpick over the differences. There have been times in my life when I have tried to separate the different aspects of health, such as when I only focused on eating well and exercising. I was nourishing my physical body, but I neglected my emotions and social connections. Health is all about balance, and can’t be broken up into little, isolated pieces. Treating our physical selves well is definitely a huge part of being healthy individuals, but we can’t focus on our bodies and neglect what feeds our minds, spirits, and souls.

Do you think I’ve used the word health enough yet? Yeah, me too!

 To shift gears just a bit, today I fed my happy self. Since I was a child, I’ve had a tender affinity for plants. Plants fascinate me—the way they emerge, timidly at first from the soil, slowly gain confidence from the sun and then stand proudly as if they’ve conquered the world. Which in a way, they have. Growing up in the country with a mother who let us have patches in the garden (but also held us accountable to weeding them!) fostered my love affair that continues to this day. What can I say, I’m a biophiliac. Indeed, when “I grow up,” I want to be a farmer. I participated in 4H, as many Midwesterners do that live in the country, and aside from the family history of dominating in the rabbit department my niche was plants. One year, I proudly took home best in show in three different categories: tallest sunflower, best flower arrangement, and best gladiolas. My thumb’s been stained green ever since. 

When I moved to Texas and was desperately yearning again to commune with nature and the outdoors, I started a garden. Unfortunately, the wiles of school and the heat of Houston summers often seduced me away, but I would seek refuge there on occasion. I found purpose in plants, in tending to the earth, in weeding and nourishing the life I’d placed in the soil. When I began my tiny oasis in the desert backyard (our property has a fair amount of sand and iron ore), we placed a pear tree in the back. I’m not ashamed to say that I would go out and not only chat with my little tree, but give it massages. With nutrient rich, compost-tea esque concoctions. It was loved. And, it’s now producing pears without another tree nearby. . . spontaneous reproduction, brought on by a babyhood of nourishment? I’ll take the credit!

You can see the dry soil, my pear tree, marigolds, tomatoes, and eggplants!

Now, I work on the organic garden at my school. Our farm manager noticed my affinity for excessive connection with the plants in our garden, and has thus put me in charge of growing the seedlings for spring and summer. Or maybe I was just a terrible ditch digger, and he wanted me somewhere my talents wouldn’t go to waste 🙂 . I’ve spent four hours this week in the biology department’s greenhouse, tending to this creation of life.

All the soon to be seedlings!

I already have some sprouting that I planted last week!

Health. It isn’t just about exercise and eating well.