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Under a Harvest Moon

October 6, 2009

Like many of you, my job requires little physical effort and much more brain power. I sit at a desk, with a window on the city. I can feel my muscles seizing up and to that effect I now have to get a night guard to keep from clenching my teeth. But Friday comes and there is some good news. Sunshine coincides with Saturday and the rare October Harvest Moon, and that is my ticket to the country.

I trade the order of square lawns and sidewalks for a winding road, a gentle fall breeze and brilliant sunshine that warms us. We are two farm hands making the pilgrimage 45 minutes outside of the city.
Chaos greets us in the form of three wagging tails, lolling tongues and eager woofs. The dogs love company.

Happy dogs!

Happy dogs!

Friends have traded in downtown convenience with country quiet. They are trailblazers, creating a life that is less about upwardly mobile and more about feeding your soul, connecting with your food source and actively pursuing a  healthy lifestyle. They found a fixer-upper and with great courage tackled gardening on a much larger scale than their previous balcony Edens (they were amazing!)

Deep in the gardenFor me, it’s a treat to help out. Sunshine, fresh air, dirt under my fingernails and a bounty of produce for my labour – this is a great day.
Gardening is a constant experiment. Year two, and the soil is better. There are some long term projects like asparagus and artichokes, now in raised beds, but the corn is a disappointment. Sown too early or picked too late we manage to salvage a few. This is the year we all learned the truth about zucchini – less is more.

Red, purple, Yukon gold, and fingerlings fill the wheelbarrow.

Yukon Gold, Red, Purple, Fingerlings - yummy!

Yukon Gold, Red, Purple, Fingerlings - yummy!

We don’t know when we’ll see another sunny weekend in October so we dig up some more. Halfway through the potatoes, the cows next door pay a visit and are happy to eat the grassy weeds.

Good neighbours really - quieter than my neighbour.

Good neighbours really - quieter than my neighbour.

Many hands make light workMany hands make light work and we move on to squash, leeks, carrots, beans, and peppers. We curse our friend, the mad scientist who flung carrot seeds everywhere and never thinned them. We dream of gardens to come and make plans for next year.

With a thought to the future, they’ve planted apple and hazelnut trees which will grow well if they escape the bear that likes to visit and has eaten all the blueberries this year. We are all anxiously optimistic that the fruit of the olive trees will one day grace our martinis and cross our fingers that the Meyer lemon will survive the winter. I’m amazed sometimes at the bounty we can grow in this climate and ashamed that so much good earth is buried under roads, parking lots, malls and condos.

My muscles ache in a good way. Sweat and a smile, I’m imagining the winter squash recipes I will tackle this week. The smell of green invigorates as carrots stalks break, the last basil is picked, and someone accidentally steps on some dill. The wind rustles through the dried corn stalks; I close my eyes and just listen.

My hosts peeking through the cornIt’s been hours since I thought about work or was anywhere near a computer. 

It’s hard work.  And it’s probably easier and cheaper to just go to the store to buy asparagus instead of waiting three years,  but it My fellow farmhand relaxes with our cropfeels like the right thing to do. It’s worth it for the personal satisfaction of eating something you planted, watered, nurtured and picked.  It’s worth the extra cost to buy non-GMO seeds. It’s worth it to spend a day in the fine October sun, laughing and spending time with friends.

Winter squash - lots of winter squashAuthor’s note: If you already have a garden in your back yard and ever find yourself with too many zucchini’s check with your local food bank. In Vancouver, the food bank has two programs – plant-a-row for hunger, and the fruit tree project, which allows gardeners to donate their bumper crops to the food bank. If you don’t have a garden and would like to help out, the fruit tree project is often looking for volunteers.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. yvonne permalink
    October 7, 2009 4:39 am

    Although I had achy muscles the next day, they were assuaged with the knowledge that good work had been done and a burden have been lightened for friends. Not to mention the amazing roast winter squash soup that has filled my tummy several days this week.

    I have been giving out squash and potatoes to friends and it feels so good to share in the bounty of that beautiful garden.

    Thanx for a fabulous day!


  2. Farm Hand Harry permalink
    October 7, 2009 8:26 pm

    Hey out there in the city,

    It was sure great having a helping hand or two, or three to help bring in the harvest. So much to do at this time of year, but the best feeling is when you can sit down knowing you did well to get it done and still have time to relax! Really, the day was wonderful, digging up the golden treasures in the potatoe rows, then moving on to those luscious leeks, the likes of which I have never seen. Here’s to our friend James, who had the wisdom to spread a little manure our way and to help with the building of our massive compost pile last fall. I must say, if you can plant it here and have it survive late frosts, keep an eye out for some friendly rain clouds and if none appear, well, get the water to those beds boy. Lo0k no farther than your nearest field for the best, freshest produce your sweat can buy.

    Thanks so much, you all.

  3. October 8, 2009 7:52 am

    Ah.. the fruits of Labour. So nice to see everyone enjoying the harvest.. truly is.. Glad you guys had fun.. what a great article… !.

  4. Janet permalink
    October 15, 2009 8:46 pm

    Great blog Kim!! Love the stories. Especially the one about our farm ;). I’m so thrilled you’re doing this and can’t wait to read more. You are a great writer!!!

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