The Short Story:
This simple lunch and post was inspired from my friend Mil’s post, My Sunday dinner: farmed and foraged, and from Dog Island Farm with their amazing Year Without Groceries project. Our goal is to be able to have one or two days a week where we eat nothing but our own food – even just one day a week would be 52 days a year.
We’re no where close to that, but today we had a great lunch straight from the yarden, a bitter green wild salad. Since Lynn spends most of the weekend studying, I surprised her with a plate full of weeds for lunch, and it all went better than expected.
- Two large bunches of Dandelion leaves
- A small bunch of Sow Thistle
- Raspberries and Lemon
After cleaning everything and mincing the herbs, I made a salad dressing with Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, Flax oil, crushed Raspberries and Lemon. Lunch was served with homemade Kombucha on ice.
The rest of the story (you can stop now if you’re not here for the Farm-a-losophy):
I’m not at the point in the season or the process where I’m getting a huge yield from our yard, but I know it will pick up in a month or so, and over time as we improve our skill. This is our third year of yardening and each year we get more serious than the last, and each year the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.
I am really starting to understand the quote from Masanobu Fukuoka, “Truly successful agriculture requires not so much arduous labor as awareness, observation, connection and persistence.” It certainly does require a hecka lot of labor, but nothing replaces being out in the dirt and gaining a new understanding of how to farm and live simply, in cooperation with the land. Fukuoka needed several years to repair his land and soil, and ruined countless trees and crops while learning more what not to do, than what to do.
I feel that way now. I can buy some junk from a catalog and grow pretty red organic tomatoes, but cheap organic tomatoes is not the goal in itself, it’s one of the results of the goal.
I had a “moment” while I was making the simple salad, and again excuse me for sounding like a moron but I’m sure I represent a lot of people so consider it good insight.
I spent the morning working with a big trash can that has become a worm bin. I was pulling out some worm castings for Compost Tea, and digging out junk that never broke down, like coconut shells and avocado seeds. Every kind of bug and beastie lives in this bin, with big fist-full knots of red wriggler worms. I was elbow deep in partially decomposed muck, spiders and worms. Meanwhile back in the kitchen I was cleaning up the salad and cleaning off the slug trails on some of the leaves and just had to stop myself from GAG REFLEX.
Sometimes it’s just clear how far removed from reality we all live – that the mere notion of my lunch having come out of the DIRT with the BUGS, the SLIME, the MOLD and the MICROBES made me gag. I also wondered for a moment if I had picked the right “weeds” or if I was about to spend the afternoon in the bathroom. Maybe something funny to Live Tweet in the future. Remember that Sow Thistle and Dandelion were brought here as garden vegetables from European settlers – but I generally have no idea what food looks like unless I buy it in a box labelled “food” or pick the right retail plants from the local garden supply. In fact I’ve been trained that most things outside are “ornamental” or “weeds” and it is a little like shock therapy to put them in my mouth, even when weeds like Dandelion ARE food, and sold in expensive bundles at Whole Foods!
This year I can actually recognize many of the volunteer seedlings in the yarden while they are still small. I can also tell quickly if the plants look “right” or not, and then have very little idea on the next steps to help them. Several years ago I would have gone to the store and bought some chemical goo that addresses that issue, but not now. Now I have to actually learn something and understand the causality of my actions, and how to interact with an amazingly robust natural web of life that I am a part of. It is a humbling and clumsy progress of unlearning being at war with nature.
This is a real problem we need to deal with to get positive change in the mass of humanity, people like me. Being so abstracted and removed from the world effects the way we vote, the way we live, what we eat, the way we spend our money, and how we care for others. Most of us are too dang far from reality, life and death, dirt and bugs, except on TV, and as much of a Newbie as I feel like sometimes, I’m one of the most Highly Uncivilized people on the block.
Do you think people who grew their own food would vote different about GMOs? If people were more involved in the local supply chain of meat products, would they vote to reduce animal cruelty in factory farm environments? If they knew local farmers would they be more likely to spend a little bit more on local food? If they knew how to grow healthy organic vegetables would they have a higher standard for produce at the grocery store?
What is one thing you can do today to help people like me get a little further, a little faster?