Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why Bein’ 8 Feels So Great…

A little googling can go a long way. That’s what the Nana Network was doing when we attempted to learn more about entering to win a Whole Foods garden grant. We were googling to find examples of past winners, and ended up going off on a cyber tangent. Before long we unearthed—if you’ll pardon the pun—a community garden not far from our HQ. They are called the Rotary Community Garden of Coral Springs and cheerfully informed us that they were accepting new garden contracts this autumn.

So we purchased one of their 40, 8′*4′ individual plots for the cool as a cucumber price of $32, and then spent a matching sum in vegetable seeds and newly blossoming plants. My chief writing correspondent planted okra, eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, beans and lettuce in Block #8 this past Sunday. It was the 10th anniversary of 9/11, National Grandparents Day, and also a call to service by the Obama Administration, asking that we try and do something charitable or good.

For us, rubbing shoulders (and garden trowels!) with this new community served exactly that purpose. Everyone we’ve met so far has been friendly, knowledgeable and above all, earth loving. They do composting and make their own mulch; they share gardening secrets and so far, with us, some strawberry plants. I’m looking forward to reaping what we sew this year and harvesting enough to make my Julienne Zucchini with Spinach and Basil Pesto and Braised Baby Tomatoes, Radishes and Cucumber with Mint. With any luck, some of my gardening neighbors will offer spare springs of the herbs I need, and gather someday for a potluck. I’ve plucked these recipes from my book, Fresh Traditions. Growing your own veggies is a fresh tradition so many of us urban dwellers have long abandoned; I look forward to trying my hand at reviving it.

Some kitchen gadgets you’ll need to create good veggie dishes (match-like strips are “julienne”) are a mandolin, and—at least here in Florida, even if wintertime is coming—a really good hat. With my best man out there digging Sunday, it wasn’t long before I got a full report on the insane heat of a mid September afternoon in the Sunshine State. She said she longed for one of those Vietnamese hats, so I did some shopping and added one as this week’s Favorite Thing.

As to applying for that Whole Foods grant, you can see from my entertaining blog that I’ve been writing about the grocery store a lot lately, pleased with their successful attempts to bring a community together over shared culinary experiences. We’re still trying to find out more about nominating public schools for their own $2,000 award toward having a vegetable garden on campus. If our readers have any wisdom or experience with this, we hope they’ll leave us a comment.
We’ll be sure to post photos, every month or so, of Plot #8’s progress and growth. See you soon!


1 comment:

Jenny Mertes said...

It's fascinating to read what you are planting in the South at this time of year. I am new to the Southwest and could probably be starting a garden now too. By the way, Whole Foods is advertising a $20 certificate for only $10 today (9-13-11) through LivingSocial.com, and I snagged one. It's quite a drive from my home to Whole Foods, but I can't wait to use my certificate!

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