FoodCorps Friday- Growing Into the New Year
By, Athens Land Trust service member, Bexx Merck
The beginning of winter in Georgia marked the end of a long tomato season.
A combination of an unseasonably warm Fall and a relief from drought made for the perfect storm for an extended season. Besides a couple sub-freezing nights, the sun kept our garden warm at Coile Middle School, with a little help from some row cover
It was a sad day for our garden, even though we had such a strong growing season. Luckily, the frowns soon turned upside down when we discovered all of the things we could do with the tomatoes we had left.
First, we made school-grown watermelon gazpacho and green tomato pico de gallo in October. Then we sent green tomatoes and fist-sized, blush-colored brandywines home with students before their late November break.
Unseasonable weather can be disconcerting at best. And at worst, it can be the anxious sound of our deepest inner voice reminding us of our responsibility, as we witness the extreme climates affecting people and the ecosystems around them in life changing ways.
To be honest, waiting for Winter to come felt like a total drag and at a really dragging time of the year for so many. I could tell the students and teachers I serve with needed the break from the pressure at school to be with family to find some cheer throughout the holidays.
Usually I sense a contagious spirit of welcoming the new year around folks, not the weight and reservations that I saw this holiday season. Like Tiffany, my co-service member, wrote in the last FoodCorps Friday blog, self-care has never been so important. In order to lift each other up, we’ve got to start with ourselves. And I think relying on eating good food and being gathered together might be the next most healing thing we can do for each other.
To keep moving forward this Fall when faces and hearts were long, I kept engaging my students in an exchange of knowledge, reflection, and positivity. We closed out 2016 making radish bruschetta and split up the few pounds of leftover radishes we harvested to take home. When we get back, kale, collards, beets, and spinach will be waiting on us.
Being thankful for still being able to grow food and have sustenance in what can feel like a stressful time of year, saying goodbye to one and entering another, well, it’s bittersweet. It is harsh to feel the weight of this year pass but there is absolutely hope and strength in pushing forward and doing what we know builds us up–in this case, growing food, preparing it, and eating every last bite.
We have more plans to explore and learn and grow and taste the earth together. If the weather is going to give us good growing temperatures, by gosh we’re here for it! And we will weather it.