Five years ago, we joined Henry Got Crops, our local CSA, which is affiliated with Philadelphia’s W.B. Saul High School for Agricultural Sciences, one of two agricultural high schools within the city limits of an urban metropolis in the United States (the other being Chicago). We split a small share with a friend taking turns to collect our produce every other Tuesday across 24 weeks. Since the CSA is only a few miles from our house, it’s easy for me to take my dog for a visit to the farm. Lots of members make it a family affair, bringing pets and children for a few hours to enjoy the day.
Along with my bi-weekly CSA share, the farm offers a “you pick” garden throughout the season. There are rows of fresh herbs for medicinal use as well as making tea, like chamomile, lemon balm, calendula and yarrow. Then there are the rows dedicated to culinary herbs like basil, dill, oregano, parsley and chives. In the spring we pick plenty of peas and in the summer, there are beans, okra, tomatillos, ground cherries and chilies. Then there’s my favorite: the hoop house dedicated to cherry tomatoes.
On top of the edible “you pick” garden, there’s also an entire section devoted to flowers! I can’t tell you how much joy this brings me throughout the summer. Zinnias, celosia, purple coneflowers, lavender, snapdragons, cosmos amongst many more. Each year new flower varieties have been added. Of course, my favorite just might be the variety of beautiful sunflowers raising their sunny faces to the sky.
Before joining the CSA, eating in season was something that I aspired to, but never actually practiced. Now that we have fresh seasonal produce to explore every two weeks, we are challenged to find new ways to eat the vegetables and greens we receive. Throughout the season, I’ve been capturing each share as part of my daily photo project, The Mug Chronicles.
In the spring, our share is full of greens…and greens…and more greens, or “tree bark” as my meat-and-potatoes-loving husband calls them!
In the summer, our bounty is full of more substantial vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, carrots and onions.
In the fall, multiple greens make a comeback with the last vestiges summer has to offer too.
I enjoy capturing various scenes from around the farm, particularly the seedlings being grown in large trays. I love how they create geometric shapes amongst the endless little leaves being fostered for growth.
I also love being able to walk amongst the rows of food on my visits.
Sometimes if there’s an early frost, the vegetable patches will be open to members to pick as many as they’d like. One year it was red, green and yellow peppers, another year heirloom and paste tomatoes. As an avid gardener myself, this practice fulfills me on so many levels.
Living in the city, I have very little control over the gardens that surround me. When I first moved into my house, although my back yard was partially shaded, it still received enough sunlight to grow a large crop of tomatoes, chilies, peppers, herbs, along with other veg like broccoli, eggplant and cabbage. But as the years passed – and a neighbor allowed a tree to grow close to his house – my partial sunlight turned into mostly shade, my vegetable garden into perennial flowers; I can now only grow tomatoes in containers on my deck, and although I still grow herbs amongst the perennials, it’s a far cry from the big crops from earlier years.
Perhaps one day I’ll have the vegetable garden of my dreams, but for now, I enjoy my bi-weekly visits to the CSA and eating my food from farm-to-table, and as you can see, I never miss a visit without one of my cameras!
Until next time,
Holly ~ Soupatraveler