Farm shares are one of those aspects of urban living I just can’t get accustomed to, largely because I’ve experienced the glut of seasonal produce for my entire life. My family would buy produce at the grocery store for the majority of the year. But then summer would bring a tidal wave of produce which landed in my mother’s kitchen, plucked from my Grandpa’s garden.
The highlight of my summer was always when strawberries showed up. Mounds and mounds of strawberries were piled up on the kitchen counter, just begging for me to stick my little kid hands in there and gorge myself.
“You’re going to give yourself hives!” My mother would shout from the closet, digging out a huge pot to boil down the strawberries to make jam. I never once developed hives as I ran around with pink fingers and red teeth, slightly nauseous from the fruit overdose.
But then the less exciting produce arrived. Bushels of tomatoes. Endless mountains of summer squash. Cucumbers. Corn was always a welcome addition to my diet, but it seemed overwhelming after a couple of weeks. My Mom did her best to create sauces and pickles and jams from the bounty when she stayed at home with us kids. But we weren’t big fans of homemade spaghetti sauce (although I do miss the homemade strawberry jam).
It’s been a few summers since Grandpa passed away, but my uncle has taken up the mantle of growing too much produce for our small family. I love getting some zucchini and corn—it’s just a little intimidating to bring back several bags full for just my boyfriend and I. Now, I share with the office and the family I babysat and anyone else who’s looking for a free locally grown cucumber. Even still, I end up wracked with guilt when I discover a handful of rotted cucumbers in the crisper because I know how hard my uncle worked to grow them.
This week, a friend of mine who’s out of town let me pick up her weekly farm share. I’ve picked up a pint of tomatoes or a handsome potted herb from the farmer’s market, but I was intrigued to try out this urban foodie rite of passage. I brought a handful of reusable bags with me and showed up.
I expected it to be like Birchbox—a pre-selected allotment of fruits and veggies would be in some form of container, doled out to customers. Instead, there was a whiteboard with weights of each item scrawled on it. It was up to the customer to pick out his or her share from crates, weigh it, and toss it into their bag. It was a bit intimidating. How many cucumbers can I take? Jalapeños, hooray! Leeks? I detest leeks. Melon? That smashed-up looking thing? Pass.
It brought up all those feelings I get when my uncle shuffles into my mother’s kitchen, toting armloads of plastic bags barely holding up to the weight of produce inside. I long to approach it as a challenge, like the home version of Chopped. But I just feel bad for inevitably not using every last bite.
However, the fruits and veggies are delicious. I deliberately picked underripe peaches in the hopes I’d manage to eat them all before they get too soft, but I put my thumb through the skin of one ripe fruit as I was rinsing it and figured it was time to eat it. It was the best peach I’ve had in a long time. The tomatoes tasted great with pasta, garlic, and the basil. And I’m thrilled to have fresh eggs, the one aspect of farming my uncle has given up.
However, I’ll probably give the leeks back to my friend when she’s back from vacation. I detest leeks.