The heat wave has broken, the haze has cleared, and I wake to a glorious late spring morning. It is not just the rejuvenating weather that makes me smile. It is my first distribution of vegetables at Restoration Farm and the abundance of fresh spring greens brings a sense of renewal and promise as well.
I arrive early to help with the morning harvest. I am more experienced after several years as a CSA member, but there is more I can do. I am committed to helping more at the farm this season, learning about pasture raised chickens and fresh herbs, cooking more kale in creative ways and getting to know more of the volunteers who make up the community.
I always enjoy chatting with head grower Dan Holmes to get insights into the rhythms of the farm. The addition of animals has changed the pace. There are more people passing through, and there’s a level of excitement. And he, as the farmer, is constantly gauging and assessing and building on the collective events and experiences that take root in the soil. The farm is ever a work in progress.
Dan pairs me up with Leslie, a regular volunteer, and we begin to harvest spinach. I’ve never picked spinach before, and Leslie teaches me that you pick the large, outer leaves, allowing the new leaves to fill in the center of the plant. I learn that Leslie has a brick oven, loves to read books about food, and wants to learn more about baking bread. We agree to compare notes. A warm breeze buffets the field, tugging at my t-shirt as I stoop to gather spinach. In a short time, we have filled four milk crates with luscious green leaves.
Next we are joined by Dennis and move to the field of kale and Swiss chard.
We pluck the leaves and gather them into large bouquets for the afternoon distribution.We take a jaunty ride on the back hatch of the truck to the garlic field at the north end of the historic village. I haven’t visited the field since last October when we planted hundreds of cloves. Now, the tall green shoots are waist high. We harvest the long curly garlic scapes at the center of each cluster. My fingers are fragrant with garlic.
Our pastured chickens are showing great progress. I’m amazed at how quickly they’ve grown in a few short weeks, simply by foraging in the fields.
There is an unexpected pleasure. While they weren’t anticipated for a week or two, the strawberries in the Sweet Field have ripened quickly in the past several days. I eat my first warm, juicy berry in the field and leave with a brimming quart of dazzling red fruit.
At the afternoon distribution the tables are a vision of greens.
For my evening meal, I celebrate the first spring harvest with an enormous just-picked salad of fresh spinach leaves garnished with orange slices, red onion and hard cooked egg. I eat the strawberries for dessert, au natural.
Greetings to the 2011 growing season at Restoration Farm. It feels just like a warm and welcoming spring sunrise.
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