Saturday, July 18, 2009

Homegrown Goodness ...

I don't grow things.

I have two houseplants, and they do fine. But outside, I leave my yard in the hands of Mother Nature. She does a pretty good job. Like me, her favorite color is green, so we get along.

Mom, however, is a grower. Yesterday, early, she came by with a paper-towel package.

"What's this?" I asked as she handed it to me.

"Two pickles and five cherry tomatoes," she said. An early harvest from her container garden. I unwrapped my gift and smiled at the cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are cheery.

I ate the five tomatoes and the big pickle for breakfast.

Mom doesn't plant a garden in the ground, but she coaxes unbelievable bounty out of tomato and pickle plants she pots in various containers just beyond her patio. What started as small cherry-tomato seedlings have grown taller than her gas grill.

Now is about the time of year that tomatoes start coming into their own. Mom plants mostly tiny tomatoes, and soon the day will arrive when we'll head out to her yard with a big glass bowl and fill it full with red and orange and yellow orbs.

And we love them but when it comes to tomatoes there can be too much of a good thing. So mom will share them with me, neighbors, friends at church, whomever would like a bulging Baggie of tomato-y goodness.

I love vegetables right out of the garden. As mom and I harvest tomatoes, we wipe them off and pop 'em in our mouths. There's nothing like that burst of flavor from a tomato warmed by the sun.

And I'm sure, soon enough, the zucchini bounty from other yards will start appearing on her doorstep. (The sooner the better, as zucchini bread is one of my all-time favorite things.)

Flipping through an issue of Family Circle the other day, I ran across an article about Amy Grey, who lives in Moscow, Idaho. In her first foray into gardening, she let her boys plant an entire packet of lettuce seeds and ended up with 200 heads of lettuce.

So she called her local food bank to ask if it accepted produce. It did.

And The Backyard Harvest was born.

I love her idea! She and a multitude of others plant and harvest fruits and vegetables and donate it to local food banks. The program has expanded beyond Idaho to California and Washington. With other communities expressing interest, local chapters are starting to sprout up across the country.

For more information on starting a chapter in your area or to make a contribution, visit this page.

The Backyard Harvest is also compiling recipes and tips to share along with the produce. You can share a favorite recipe or tip here.


Blogger Mercurie said...

Growing up on a farm we used to raise tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, potatoes, watermelons, and cantaloupes. We almost never bought veggies from the store.

Only been the past few years that we've started raising tomatoes here in town. Our cherry tomatoes have done pretty well, but there's not enough to really donate to any of the food banks. Still, it's a great idea.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For many years I cultivated a community garden plot in Farmington, CT. I have a very green thumb and the plot was big. I'd put in two dozen tomato plants and the yield was unreal. Same with zukes, peppers of all sorts, beans, broccoli ... and despite the fact that I'm largely a vegetarian, we couldn't eat all of it. And our local food pantry happily accepted the excess.

6:01 PM  

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