Although not a farmer, this class, The Farm and Literature, has helped me contemplate what role I can play in production. I believe in increasing local foods and participating more in a local economy, so recently, I’ve been seeking out what is already available in my community. I can also empower myself to use my skills to help in my own way to further the local foods economy.
With the tools of technology to get the word out, a backyard to salvage from, and a idea, I organized a Fall Harvest Exchange, to connect the interested members of my community to come together to share their extra organic abundance. That’s the flyer that I made for the event.
The exchange was hosted at the CommuniTea Garden, a place that some friends and I started this spring which has turned into a budding gathering space and a source of many annual flowers. This is what the CommuniTea Garden looks like as of late October, 2016.
We were able to yield much marigold seed from this garden to have available to share.
We set up a table for the seeds which we had collected, left room for the goodies that we hoped the community would bring to share, and offered free hot tea to help us warm up to the festivities.
This was truly a celebration of our valley’s abundance. We had many people bring their seeds, extra produce, cut flowers, and indoor plant cuttings.
I started with simply seeds and an idea and went home with a handful of new varieties of seeds to try in the spring, pounds of produce, a new level of love for our community, a warm belly and happy heart.
The next day, I spent processing the produce I received. I made 6 quarts of green salsa from these tomatillos!
One of my favorite contributions were these ‘hedge apples’. I hadn’t seen this plant since I lived in Iowa growing up. What I heard about them is that they keep spiders away so you put them in corners of your house and behind your bed, places where you don’t want those friends. Also, you can make a good guess about where old property lines in the country were because farmer’s would use this plant as a hedge to mark their property from their neighbors. My mom, who has an artist’s soul, uses hedge apples as decoration and I think I will do the same.
This neat root stock is walking onion, which is a prolific allium which reproduces in the most interesting way: when the seed heads on the end of the tall stalk gets heavy in the fall, it falls over and while still attached to the original root base, the seed head borrows into the ground and propagates itself where it fell. This is the walking motion inferred in the name.
We are one of many harvest events and seeds swaps taking place. This traditional practice is becoming more and more common as people are reconnecting with their communities, their bioregion and their histories while also seeing the importance of seed saving for tradition. Check out this trailer the movie, Seed: The Untold Story.
Other sources of inspiration include Vandana Shiva and her work on promoting seed saving as a means of ecological imperative as well as cultural protection.
There are also a few seed saving companies that I am inspired by. Native Seeds Search is one of them and is most applicable to the Moab region where I live as they are based in Arizona and so have bioregionally appropriate seeds for here.
This harvest exchange will hopefully become a tradition in my community. It was an easy action that produced great benefits for everyone who came. I’m glad to participate in a practice that celebrates the harvest season, boosts the community’s connection to the land, improves the local economy and food sovereignty, and brings people together in a fun, social and meaningful way.