Harvest Party Report
consider last Sunday’s Harvest party and
Pumpkin Pick to be a resounding success! Yes,
it drizzled a bit, but it didn’t dampen
the spirits of the 80 or so folks who showed up
to enjoy great potluck food and tour the farm.
The two harvest wagons were full, but not dangerously
so, until we loaded them with pumpkins. But that’s
getting ahead of the story!
First stop on the farm tour was in the sweet
potatoes field. Not many Midwesterners have seen
sweet potatoes growing, much less have experienced
pulling them right out of the soil. But, before
you can pull, you have to cut and remove the tropical-looking
vines. Then tear away the plastic covering the
bed and carefully dig with a garden fork, keeping
it well away from where you can see the tips of
the potatoes poking up through the dirt. As I
pry gently, exposing the bunch of tubers, oohs
and aahs can be heard all around from the kids.
The striking similarity between a bunch of bananas
and a bunch of sweet potatoes is commented on.
Indeed, in banana-like fashion, they grow in a
cluster, down into the soil under the main stem
of the vine. They come in all sizes and even some
weird shapes, but every one of them gets snatched
out of the moist soil by eager little hands. When
every child, and several adults, have a couple
to take home, we move on to the carrots.
Carrots generally can’t be coaxed out of
the ground without the aid of a garden fork, but
the broad shouldered, stubby yellow ones, with
the thick thatch of lacy tops, cooperated! Kids
were pulling them right and left, surprised at
the new color and mild, sweet flavor. That’s
right, what’s a little dirt when you can
pick and enjoy right on the spot. More than one
child was spotted with a smudge of dirt by their
lips, munching happily away!
It was here in the carrot field that the kids
captured my attention. In our modern world of
electronic video games, fast-paced TV and general
sensory overload, how amazing to see pure joy
and a sense of accomplishment come over the young
faces when a carrot lets go its grip on the earth,
revealing shape and size. How can a simple carrot
become a prized jewel, a bringer of joy? I like
to think it is some ancient bond with the earth
and growing things that has awakened in the children.
our modern world of fast-paced TV and general
sensory overload, how amazing to see pure joy
and a sense of accomplishment come over the
young faces when a carrot lets go its grip on
the earth, revealing shape and size. How can
a simple carrot become a prized jewel, a bringer
of joy? I like to think it is some ancient bond
with the earth and growing things that has awakened
in the children.
The tour continues. On we go to the beets--gold
beets, chioggia beets, red beets--more jewels,
and even easier to pull. Before we board the wagons
someone mentions the lemongrass. Now, that’s
a challenge! Even though it grows above ground,
it is more likely to release its heavenly aroma
than release its roots. After a wrestling match,
a few lucky souls tote lush, fragrant bundles
back to the wagon.
Aboard the covered harvest wagons, out of the
misty air, we wind our way past fields of broccoli,
kale and parsley, and stop in the tomato patch.
Now, after weeks of picking, the tidy aisles of
straw are littered with tomatoes that will never
become a BLT or a rich sauce. A little sunburn,
a water-induced crack or some other blemish relegated
them to eventually become compost. Nevertheless,
there are lots of delicious tomatoes still left
on the newest vines. Green zebras, Georgia streaks,
grape tomatoes and even a row of the tomato cousin,
cape gooseberries, are hits. Though we never plant
a full row, and they never produce many fruits,
we keep growing cape gooseberries, which resemble
overgrown ground cherries. Maybe we grow them
just for the fun of seeing folks peel back their
papery “capes” and taste their exotic,
citrusy tang for the first time!
Finally we trek to the pumpkin patch. There are
hundreds of pumpkins to pick from. One after another
they are chosen, cut from the vine and set next
to the road. As the wagon passes, the pumpkins
are handed up. Soon the wagons can hold no more
and the supply boxes on the front of the tractors
and the back of the wagons are heaping, as well.
We trundle home to the greenhouse where all hoses
are employed to wash the pumpkins clean. Hoses
are nearly as much fun as picking vegetables.
Though there were some very wet kids, the washing
didn’t stop until all the future jack o’
lanterns were shiny and beautiful.
Cars and families head out, loaded with various
veggies and, of course, the perfect pumpkins.
Little Vivian, however, wasn’t quite ready.
She wanted to see the horses. We conducted an
impromptu windfall apple hunt, nearly as much
fun as an Easter Egg hunt, and went to feed the
greedy beasts. Tiny hands, held flat and balancing
apples, stretched up to the giant, soft noses
and lips. Just as the horse reached out, the hand
pulled back! Kinda scary! “Try again and,
this time don’t flinch.” Eventually,
the kids got so good at it that the horses were
drooling apple cider. Neither the kids, nor the
horses, wanted to quit!
So, when we flop into chairs at the end of the
long, visitor-filled Sunday, are we wondering
why we take our one day off in an 80 hour work
week to hold the Harvest Party? Not at all! It’s
the kids! (okay, the adult kids, too!) We like
to think that eating out of the box, seeing it
grow in the field, and pulling it out of the ground
or off the vine, forever changes how a person
thinks about food. CSA kids eat healthier foods,
maybe, we believe, with habits ingrained for a