Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Garden Folk

A couple of Saturdays ago I got to be on the other side of the table at a Farmer's market event at the Oklahoma City Oklahoma Food Cooperative store. For the first time I was there as a vendor. Wow! What a beautiful day doing business the way it was done for many years at this location in it's prime. Getting to know these farmers and regular variety garden folk was really touching to me. Plants make people happy, pure and simple. And I got to give part of that happiness. I was there selling cards and garden seeds but I got to sit next to the plant people- those who know hospitality, heirlooms, and handshakes.

My newly found friends are amazing. My friend Dev Vallencourt and her husband Kip Francis at High Tides and Green Fields grows 147 different varieties of peppers. Pretty sure you will never see a tenth of that many varieties in any grocery store. She also was teaching me about some innovative (or perhaps wise, antiquated ways) she has begun to grow winter crops in hugelkultur method from Germany that creates so much heat by planting on top of old wood that she was able to grow crops all winter long, uncovered.

I met a young farmer, Samantha Lamb who was managing a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) endeavor on her grandparents homestead in the Medicine Park area. I met Michael Ruzycki who is farming and hosting a store in Choctaw, The Veggie Lounge who said he started because he was always amazed at how much leftovers his grandfather always had from his garden. Two other guys have started an event composting and zero waste company, Fertile Ground in Oklahoma City. Others, like Renrick farms are working diligently to provide more drought tolerant, native, and butterfly loving flowers. Double R farms  was there  selling pastured lamb and eggs and Barb was trying to figure out what growing things looks like in Oklahoma after living for years in Alaska. There was experience and there was youth, but above all there was energy. Urban Agrarian hosts an all local market five days a week and their staff was busily working indoors sorting crates of tomatoes and processing local foods from all over into a wide assortment of baked goods while the old dog swatted flies with his tail on the porch. While we sat in our store outdoors community organizers from a "Better Block" project had gathered and were literally painting the town- covering over years of neglect and breaking ground for new beginnings.  

And then there were the customers. The lady who got a "pet" fern. The radiant Reverand who had been healed from a stroke. Everybody who marveled over how strawberries grow. Those whose garden was an epic fail last year, but they were trying again because they were determined to get their eight year old to like vegetables. And then the lovliest of my day, a young girl who had just come from a workshop where she had made a planter box a few inches wide by about three inches deep. She was absolutely bursting to find a way to plant things. No one had showed her the dirt in her own yard. She was so enthusiastic she could have made seeds sprout just by sheer wish. "I just want to grow something I can eat she told me." So we made a deal and I sold her two packets of lettuce and peas... And, hopefully, a share of the garden.

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