Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Gleaning Time

When I was a kid, my mom was not shy about approaching people. Oftentimes, this was to my teenage mortification as she would actually talk to the person in front of us in the grocery line while I just wanted to curl up and fade away. But she was also not afraid to ask other people things that most people would not. Like "I see you've got a plum tree that no one is picking. Would you mind if we picked some of your plums?" I grew up in a big agricultural valley, so a bountiful harvest of fruits grew there that often fell to the ground, and my mom was not going to let that go to waste. We come from a long line of pioneer spirits (not to mention Depression-era survivors), and there's nothing more egregious than wasting anything, especially if it's edible. So we once gleaned 200 pounds of peaches from an orchard that had already been picked. And I once discovered containers of plums (from that unpicked tree) in our freezer, a decade after they'd been cut up and placed in old plastic margarine tubs for cold storage.

So when our new neighbors didn't look like they were going to pick the amazing harvest of cherries on the tree in their front yard, I didn't think twice about asking them if we could pick. And pick we have. And pick, and pick, and pick. I've put up about 12 quarts of cherries so far, and we've barely touched the tree. I only have a smallish ladder and the top 2/3 of the tree is quite literally going to the birds, but we've got cherries galore and they are simply gorgeous. So today I'm thankful for my thrifty German and Scottish ancestors, and for my forward-thinking mom who set such a good example (even if it embarassed me at the time) of not letting something go to waste when a simple question might yield a bounty.


hak said...

Wow...I'm envious! I love cherries but we can't get very good produce here in Nevada. We get stuck with a lot of green, as in not ripe, stuff. Yech. Not very flavorful.

Our small "square-foot" gardens are going well although we are now entering the period of year (July and August) where the heat just kills everything. It's our in-between growing season.

My youngest daughter and I put some green bean seeds in a wet paper towel, stuck that in a Ziploc and hung it from the blinds in her window until the beans sprouted. Nice and healthy. We put them in potting soil in mason jars and put those outside where they would get sunshine and overspray from some other plants.

They died in less than a day. Just fried up from the 105+ heat.

Bummer. I may try again and see if we can find a sunny location in the house to grow beans until we can put stuff in the ground in late August/early September.

Anyway...I'm changing the topics up over at my little online publishing petri dish and would love to feature your oatmeal recipe you left a while back. Would that be OK with you? You'll get full credit and a link to Ironmom or this site, or to both. Your call. I also wouldn't mind "picking" your brain for future submissions on organic food and how we can all use urban farming (to some extent) to help us fuel our bodies as athletes.

hak /john

Family of Four said...

You have inspired our family to glean. Friday night, rather than watching a movie together, we walked through town picking wild plums and apricots that were hanging over the sidewalks, streets, and parking lots. It was an absolute blast. I hope it is the first in many such adventures.

Robin said...

That's awesome! I'm glad you shared about your gleaning adventure.

MzunguEriki said...

Hmmm. Are you sure you are not unamerican? LOL