by intern Grace Mitchell
In July, I befriended a twelve-year-old boy, Jackson, who proclaimed to me his fierce love for vegetables of all kinds and his disappointment in his peers who, unlike him, were not raised on farms and had yet to find such love. He told me he had trouble making friends because “they just didn’t understand.” Lucky for our friendship, I too have an undying vegetable passion and appreciate like-minded souls, so Jackson and I became fast friends.
That soft-skied evening I ventured to the garden with Jackson’s grandfather where we admired his gargantuan squash plants that would provide bountiful and opulent meals come fall. I tucked full my mouth with the exquisite fruits of his raspberry patch, a fine deal of which would become wine to warm their bodies through the wet winter. Jackson introduced me to his hog, whom he was fattening up for the state fair competition, and who would, with or without prize, give Jackson and his family bacon and the like with the passing of October. After harvesting far too many sugar peas from their vines and eating plenty more, we moved inside where Jackson’s grandmother set aside the spare sugar peas for freezing and pickling, and we sat down to enjoy a glass of last summer’s raspberry wine and the past autumn’s dried pears. A meal followed, comprised solely of pickings from our evening garden stroll. What luxurious ease it was to dine so gloriously! And Jackson and his family would be eating in like manner all winter, thanks to their voluptuous garden and seasoned foresight.
Then one day I picked up and moved to New York City, where I still have yet to secure a dresser and other useful items of furniture, where I live in fear of lighting my antique oven, and where when the L train ceases to run (mm, going on four Saturdays?)I fail to make the one-and-a-half hour trek to the farmers’ market and too frequently find myself subsisting on spelt berries and a gifted and rapidly dwindling jar of apple butter.
Alas! How easy were those summer days of backyard vegetable bounty! If I lived like Jackson, my vegetable love could be fed not only all summer and into fall harvest season, but also through the winter by the overabundance of summer produce preserved through canning, drying, and freezing. It makes my heart prickle to know that while so many others committed to eating locally have been putting up their autumn harvest for coming months, I am preparing myself for a winter of vegetable doldrums and…more spelt berries.