Kids on the
A 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 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.
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
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 lifetime.
-- Richard and Linda