Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Farm to Table

I live in the city; a growth hungry city that has gobbled up nearly all the farms, ranches, and horse pastures within its Urban Growth Boundary.  A short drive over that boundary and the farms reappear. The road rolls, my head clears, the land opens, the knots in my shoulders relax.

The owners of these farms both fear land-hungry city and leverage its proximity to their produce stands.

And we love to oblige.

Today we are visiting West Union Gardens, a berry and vegetable farm. The farm stand is staffed with ruddy, fresh faces that explain which rows are open for picking and the distinctions between Triple Crown blackberries and Chester blackberries. They enjoy my girls’ enthusiasm and complement their Easter Baskets as they weigh them for the tare metric.

Berzo and Boots dash down the rows, Boots shouts the names printed on the signs while looking for the third row of Triple Crowns that opened up today. They dive into the rows and start picking immediately. Boots drops her berries into her basket and Berzo drops hers into her mouth. I appreciate that the berries aren't sprayed.

I coached the girls on determining ripeness and in no time our rounded baskets and Berzo's rounded tummy signaled that it's time to go. We headed back to the stand and the farm-stand girl weighs our baskets. I attempt to transfer some of the berries that have already been weighed to Berzo's basket to account for those she’s eaten, as evidenced by her berry splashed mug, but the girl waves me off and says that it’s all part of the experience. She's eaten at least a half-pint, which would be about five dollars at the grocery store. . . but we’re not in a grocery store.

We browsed the stand and the girls each chose a small watermelon and I picked an aromatic garlic clove. We paid for our farm goodness and headed back to the pickup.

Everyone's smiling.

Next we headed to Schoch Dairy and dropped our four dollars in the soup-can and took a half-gallon jar of milk. The cows mooed their greetings as my girls negotiated who would get to hold the jar. Vince the horse nickered and mosied over to sniff us down for treats. We have none, but he tolerates our attention anyway. He snuffs Berzo's hair sending it in all directions and sending her backpedaling with a giggle. The girls pet him and he allows them. I pet him too and ask him about his day. He snorts and I snort back. I feel you, man.

We say our goodbyes to the cows and Vince and head towards our pick-up; Vince's perked ears tell me he's still hopeful a carrot or two might lie within.

Boots tells me, “Mama, it's so much cooler getting milk from the diary rather than the boring old grocery store. Who knows where that milk comes from.”

I agree.

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