One of the finest blessings of my life is being part of a neighborhood network that is working to develop shorter paths for our food from soil to table. We have been meeting regularly for just over a year now. In the summer, it’s once a week to pool and share what we can harvest from our own gardens.
As there is need and availability, we make a connection with a local producer of food staples to cooperatively distribute some of the crop. We’ve done this with soft white and hard red wheat (grown in land that had previously been used for grass seed), pinto beans, garbanzo beans and tempeh. For a variety of reasons, the shortest path from our kitchen to the farmer’s field leads first to our neighbors’ doorsteps.
Sunday’s SHARE exchange was interesting. The guy from across the street brought a gunny sack full of well-sprouted Yukon Gold seed potatoes that a local nursery had given him. In the matter of minutes, several of us hatched a joint planting scheme. For a couple of days, Bob, Ed and I have been watering, then spreading layers of cardboard, chippings, dirt, compost and manure on a patch of ground (about 20′ x 30′) in front of Jenny & Don’s house. Linda and Lucy helped us toss potatoes and straw on top of that Tuesday evening. We have about 100 days until first frost, so we’re cautiously hopeful of bringing in a crop this summer. It’s risky enough that we aren’t putting anything of much value into the venture other than our labor and some water.
You know it’s the right thing to do when there’s just enough of the material and time to fit the space we have available. Mack contributed seed potatoes. Lucy gave cardboard, knowledge, labor and fertilizer. Linda & I provided some manure, the rest or our chippings, straw, compost and labor. Ed had the key ingredient of soil, plus his pickup truck to haul it. Delilah & Hugh had cardboard. The space and water are courtesy of Jenny & Don. Bob had tools, enthusiasm, lots of labor and a watermelon to share when it was all planted. From the idea to the celebration it was about 49 hours.
It’s neat to see that SHARE facilitates the combination of more than our finished produce. Here we’re adding labor to some leftover and low value materials. With time, it could bear a few bushels of potatoes. Even if it all goes to weeds or frozen nubbins, it’s been a fun adventure.