This time last year, I lived in an apartment above a movie theater and pizza shop. When I wanted food, I'd go to the grocery store, get take-out, or peruse the local farmers' market. I've been buying from local farmers for years, but I never dreamed that I'd soon be groaning about bumper zucchini crops or pressing apples along with the best of them. I didn't even have a back yard.
But two months ago, I moved into a bona fide farmhouse. There are three of us (including YES! Web editor Brooke Jarvis) and our main activity these days is bringing in—and then figuring out what to do with—baskets full of squash, pears, apples, plums, tomatoes, beans, peppers, grapes, etc. Brooke pointed out that we'd picked everything in her lunch except the walnuts. Then we discovered walnut trees down the street.
We were lucky. We inherited a fully-planted garden with an orchard to match. We didn't have to struggle through an experimental first year of soil testing and seed sampling. We got to start out with the gratification of the harvest. But even so, I'm learning a lot.
First thing in the morning, we take piles of shriveled tomato slices out of the dehydrator, and refill with shredded zucchinini or sliced pears. Evenings and weekends, we pack jars full of pickled bean and cucumbers, and siphon the blackberry wine. It's a lot of chopping, grating, and boiling, but I feel like an alchemist. Really, Nature does most of the grunt work, but she's pretty used to it. I haven't been doing it for billions of years. You'll find me proudly describing my adventures with salsa in the office on Monday mornings to anyone who will listen.
We still get lazy and order the occasional take-out dinner when we just can't bear to eat another zucchini, or stand over a boiling pot for another minute. But the shelves in our kitchen are steadily filling up with jars of all colors, and it feels good to know we'll be stocked up for winter with food that traveled a few yards rather than a few thousand miles to our table.