In July, the garden will be brimming with broccoli, cabbage and Asian greens and the kids will have a permanent ring of dirt around their mouth making them unable to hide the fact that they have been munching from the carrot patch again. In the fall I will be busy making fermented pickles and sauerkraut and filling the freezer with Ziploc bags of kale and spinach. But May is when we get our first taste of fresh food and it is glorious. Not food that has traveled 6,000 km like the stuff at the grocery story but, thanks to a wood stove burning hot each night keeping away the frost, our greenhouse provides us with a first crop of salad greens and kale and it tastes so good that my kids can’t get enough.
Food is central to all of our lives but for my family there is an enormous amount of effort that goes into growing, purchasing and preparing the food we eat. Many people assume having such a big garden must be a less expensive way to live, as we must save on our grocery bill; however, this isn’t so. Having a large garden comes with many expenses and the goal of growing our food and buying organic food isn’t about our bank account, it is about getting down to the basics of what is important.
Where we put our energy in life reflects what is most important. For our family the food we put into our bodies is what sustains our health, our children’s ability to grow both in body and mind and the overall quality of life now and into the future. So, a large amount of our family’s energy and efforts is put into food and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Now it is May, the busy, busy, busy, season. We have just moved the chicken coop, (yes, fresh eggs are a daily luxury) and doubled the size of the garden. Compost piles need to be turned while finished compost is being added to the garden beds. New garden beds need to be built, garlic needs to be planted and the shed is packed full of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage plants growing in pots under grow lights that will get transplanted into the garden as soon as the night temperatures aren’t below zero.
The greenhouse is packed full with tomato plants, nasturtiums, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and herbs and my partner diligently makes a big fire in the woodstove each night so the plants are alive in the morning.
Does this sound like a lot of work? Well, it is and it isn’t because we are tired at the end of the day but we had fun with what we were doing and our hands are dirty and our hearts are full.
For the food we can’t grow we do large bulk orders. There is no convenient health food store that dedicates itself to healthy food in our town so to get organic quinoa or some organic ripe peaches we order it ourselves or with our friends and neighbours. Eleven kg bags of oats and 40 lb boxes of apples arrive on large pallets and we sort them and find corner cupboards to store the food or can it up in jars for later eating. This is how we make food a priority, by not taking it for granted but instead putting in the effort to ensure our food comes from as close to home as possible, that the farmer has been treated well (especially if that farmer is myself) and that the earth is being treated well, too. This is what my family thinks about when we eat.