Pictured here is one of the reasons I absolutely love working at the farm. I love vegetables, and I especially love growing them; however, what I really love about this particular cabbage, bundle of eggplants, and three zucchini is what put them on my kitchen counter: the farmers.
Without their generosity and patience, there would be no garden, no dirty socks leaving footprints in the entrance hall, no learning the best way to harvest a daikon. There would be no ever-growing list of farm and food vocabulary, no eating bento lunch under the aki momo, and there would never have been blueberry jam. No sushi making lesson, and no Brandywine tomatoes, either. Most of all, there would be no friendship.
It is their tradition, and now mine, to share the first of the harvest with each other. Granted, they don't work in my garden often, but without them I wouldn't have a garden to putter in or aphids to complain about. (Yes, they're back.) So, as they seasons roll by and the plants mature we enjoy the first ears of sweet corn together, as well as they first heads of cabbage, broccoli, and lettuce. Bags of eggplant get shared along with the first green beans and edamame. Winter is my favorite for all the greens that come from their fields as well as my own. And who can complain about a sleek daikon lounging in the sink at the end of a long day?
I offer nothing incredibly exciting to them as they share their seeds and so my garden is a sort of miniature version of the farm with some flowers and herbs thrown in for good measure. If the garlic harvest (coming up soon!) goes well, it will be my sincere pleasure to present the first white bulbs to them. They are as excited as I am at the so-far-success of the crop, and I know we're all dreaming up how to best use them. (I'm thinking they'll nicely jazz up those eggplants.)
So it is that we eat each meal with the farmers whether they join us at the table or not, and feel the warmth of their affection and the pleasure in a shared vocation.If, as Wendell Berry says, food tastes better with a story, then friendship must be that secret ingredient that puts a dish over the top.