Joys of Eating From the Ground Up

My first carrot I can remember came straight out of the ground, dirt still clinging to the sides. I pulled it out of the garden myself, rinsed it off with the hose and munched on it as I browsed the rest of my grandpa’s lush garden for some other tasty snacks. My sister and I would spend hours hanging out under the cherry tree, watching grandpa tend to his garden. He was a man of little words, but so much love for his garden and family. He’d send us upstairs with a box full of fruit or vegetables, to deliver to grandma for canning. She would stock the cellar with grandpa’s treasures, to last the family through the winter. I’d look forward to our visits, knowing she’d pull out a couple jars filled with sweet juicy plums or, my favorite, raspberries in rosy red syrup.

My mom also recounts a story of my toddler years, wandering out to the garden, pulling up some beets and asking her to cook them for lunch. They were my favorite first food, staining the front of many bibs and shirts of my childhood. To this day, I’m a huge fan of beets and carrots, straight from the ground. I feel fortunate to have had these experiences, to know the joys of home-grown, fresh-from-the garden vegetables. Some folks only know the taste of grocery store produce, or, even worse, canned, overcooked versions. I’d hate veggies too, if that was my introduction to them!

In working with urban kids in Los Angeles, I’d hear over and over how they hated vegetables. One kid swore he would never eat a carrot, as we planted the seeds to grow our own. After tending to our seedlings, and building up their anticipation over a month’s time, the kids excitedly pulled their own sweet carrots from the ground and gave them a try. The ones that were a little unsure would watch the other children’s reaction, to see if they passed the “yuck!” test. The kid who protested earlier in the season, took a small nibble, continued to eat it, and asked for another. He proceeded to go home, announce to his parents he now liked carrots, but only home-grown, and how they needed to plant a garden. His parents were amazed and delighted.

Nutritionally, produce contains the highest amounts of vitamins and minerals when ripe and eaten straight away. As they sit, are exposed to light, heat, and time, their nutrients degrade. To get the maximum amount of health-serving nutrients from your fruits and vegetables, it’s best to get them fresh, local, in-season, and consume them right away.

Many of us do not have a farm of our own, or even a space for a garden, but luckily there are many farms within the Walla Walla area to visit and get freshly harvest vegetables from. A visit to the weekend farmers market downtown will provide you with a sampling of our local bounty or you can make a day of it and head out to visit the farm yourself. Most of the local farms sell directly to consumers, but like to have advanced notice if you are planning to visit. Some offer u-pick, which is fun for the whole family. Others offer farm tours, events, and even classes, like cheese making, preserving, and craft classes. Below is a list of local farmers and what they are growing. But weather can be unpredictable, making some items unavailable, and hours change with the season. Call ahead first.

Castoldi’s Farm Fresh Produce

Walla Walla sweets, and assorted produce

Farm stand 7:30am-5pm, seasonally

529-6121

Cavalli’s Onion Acres

Walla Walla sweets

Farm stand 8am-5pm

522-0112

Edwards Family Farm

assorted fruits and vegetables

Farm stand 9am-6pm, seasonally

(541) 938-5933

Ideal Organics Farm

assorted fruits, vegetables, and flowers

CSA subscriptions only

386-6038

Klicker Berries

berries, assorted vegetables, pumpkins (October), Christmas trees in season.

Farm stand 9am-6pm

525-8650

Lampson Blueberries

u-pick, assorted times-call ahead for schedule

closed Saturdays

(541) 938-4711

Monteillet Fromagerie

goat and sheep cheeses, assorted French vegetables and herbs, cooking classes

Visitors welcome by appointment.

382-1917

Morningstar Berries

assorted berries

(541) 938-5053

Phyllis’ Herb and Vegetable Farm

assorted vegetables and herbs

525-1777

R&R Produce

assorted fruit and vegetables

Farm stand 9am-5pm

520-8620

Stone’s Throw Farm

assorted vegetables

529-5456

Welcome Table Farm

assorted berries, vegetables, flowers, eggs

529-0772

West End Farm

assorted vegetables, flowers, eggs

540-2769

It may just be nostalgia that makes this city girl excited about spending the day on a farm, picking fruit, pressing apple cider, and hay rides, but I don’t think so. I think there is something special, amazing, and very important about supporting and appreciating our local food growers. Especially for a town like Walla Walla, where we are an oasis far from the big cities, where we should support and rely on each other, rather than buying into the corporate mass-market, that may be easier and cheaper, but keeps us further away from each other.

Tonight I am looking forward to making a big pot of arroz con pollo and shaved summer squash salad to share with my fellow community gardeners. We are having a last minute garden potluck, to use up some of our extra crops we have in abundance in the garden, and get to know each other a little better. I will be eating well tonight, supporting local growers, and building a deeper web of connection with my neighbors. One more reason, amongst the many, that I love Walla Walla!

(This is my second article for the Walla Walla Valley Weekly.  Can also be found at Wine and Dine Walla Walla)

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Categories: around walla walla, community projects, nutrition

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3 Comments on “Joys of Eating From the Ground Up”

  1. marcia
    August 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Beets and arroz con pollo my favorites!!!!!
    love from Kalispell

  2. August 5, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    I’d sell my soul for some Walla Walla Sweets right now. There’s nothing even close, where I am.

  3. Tifany cain
    August 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Fab article! We are so lucky to have such a vibrant area of great farmers and gardeners here. To live in such a beautiful place and have good eats makes me very happy!

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