Team Dances With Legumes: A constellation of gardens and animals (and a spreadsheet to track it all)
This update covers Team DWL’s prodigiously fertile first month, from mid-April through mid-May.
[The team, with table set for one of their regular One-Block
dinners. Inspired by Sunset's August 2008 story about the One-Block Diet,
they began their own version of the One-Block Diet nearly three years ago.]
What a month it’s been! Being part of this challenge has inspired us to new heights—and brought about a frenzy of digging, sprouting and planting. And planning—now we’re focused on trying new foods and drinks to produce for our harvest feast. We gathered together for a potluck dinner [several weeks ago] to share our dreams, recipes, seedlings, baking and fermenting efforts.
We were truly dancing with legumes as we savored a huge bowl of fava bean salad and delighted in the first sugar snap peas of the season.
Our gardens range from a community garden plot, established raised beds [to defend against gophers], a patchwork quilt of every type of edible plant imaginable, and newly turned soil.
Clockwise from top left: Potatoes growing in sacks; a handy place to “park” the beans;
raised beds; herb gardens in recycled pipe.
The birds and the bees…
….and a field of waving grain (wheat.)
The project manager in me was on full display after our communal dinner. Who’s going to do what? What are we going to drink? What resources can we share? Is anyone willing to dispatch an animal in order to eat it? My dad has a hatchet he inherited from his grandmother, which they used to kill their chickens for dinners. He offered to pass it on to me, and even to show me how to use it, but my husband wouldn’t even consider doing in one of his girls—he digs his chicks! (Now fishing—that’s a possibility! Also, I have a hot lead on getting a lamb and understand that lambs and chickens can coexist in the same pen. Plus I found a butchering service that will come and turn it into packages of meat. Now I have to decide if I can really do that.)
And the Jensen’s cow, our lovely Lucy, might be pregnant.
Is she or isn’t she?
And if she is, she’s due the week of our harvest feast, which means there won’t be any milk for us when we need it. Yikes! We were counting on that milk and cream for ice cream, cheese, butter, ricotta, mozzarella. Colostrum cheese, anyone? Lemon colostrum ice cream??
Lemons and raspberries—for the lemon ice cream of my dreams.
So now there’s a spreadsheet, with products, responsibilities, support, and resources mapped out to keep track of everything (I feel so much better now). Just like an architectural project, I’ve got the scope of work outlined, an organization chart with roles assigned, a schedule, a budget, and a process—with a deadline that can be impacted by so many factors beyond our control. One of our members sprained her ankle yesterday—how’s she going to dig up those garden beds? When will this cold, windy weather end? What if all my projects that are on hold because of the economy finally get started up again and I don’t have as much time to spend in the garden? What will the squirrels, blue jays, slugs and raccoons eat? So many variables, so little control.
But isn’t that what gardening—and life—is all about? We start out with dreams, we dig, we plant, we weed, we nurture—and then we deal with what comes our way. There can be glorious successes, tomatoes taller than we can reach, more berries than we can gather, and glorious poppies feeding the bees and producing a meadow of delight—and then setbacks and failures that cause us to stumble and sometimes lose our faith. But the nourishment of the earth grounds us and brings us back. Gardens feed the soul and if they can feed us, too, and help inspire others to do the same, our efforts are worth it.
One of our gardens, in mid May.
I have many quotes I love, but here’s one by Ralph Waldo Emerson that inspires me: Thought is the blossom, language the bud, action the fruit behind it.
Here’s to our spring gardens, our plans, and our harvest feast!
By Maryanne Welton, team leader
Posted by Margo True, Sunset Food Editor