The Milkweed Diaries

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gathering Around the Table

Heirloom winter squash stuffed with walnut-fig-goat cheese quinoa and served with fresh figs, elder- berries, and chevre.

To me, the kitchen table is the hearth, the center of the home, an altar, a canvass, and a hub of family and community.

This summer we've been hosting weekly "family dinners," gathering around a big, long table and sharing food, drink, and stories from the farm. I have loved these dinners--of course for the flavors of the foods coming out of the garden, but also for the sense of community that is created when friends and family come together over food. Sharing food seems to be one of the oldest, most universal ways that we connect with each other.

This time of year it is so easy to fill the table with beautiful and delicious foods from the farm and garden--it's the height of harvest season and we are eating well.

And many friends with gardens have reached that point that gardeners know so well when the volume of food coming out of the garden has become more than the gardener can handle and s/he has to issue a call for help in dealing with the onslaught of produce.

Sharon put out such a call because her fig tree was laden down with fruit, and Puma couldn't keep up with the elderberries in his front yard. So in between meetings and office time at work this week, I slipped over to my friends' yards in my and harvested the surplus fruit. Deep in the foliage of the fig tree in Sharon's back yard, reaching for the higher branches, wearing my professional attire, and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, I thought about how grateful I am for the gift economy in my community, and for the shared appreciation of good, fresh food.

Last week, we invited friends who have worked on the farm over the course of this growing season to come out for family dinner and celebrate the harvest--including figs and elderberries, along with the annual vegetables pouring out of our garden right now.

Trading with other vendors at the farmers markets has brought even more amazing food on to our table -- artisan cheeses and breads that are a perfect complement to the fruit and vegetables.

All-local bruschetta with homegrown tomatoes, beet green and basil pesto, local bread, and local goat cheese ... by Christopher

Friends bring their own delightful concoctions full of fresh local goodness to the table, too -- and the abundance almost seems too good to be true sometimes.

Blueberry cobbler by Michael ... with blueberries he picked that morning in Leicester

And as soon as the table is cleared, there is room for the next meal, and the next. Later in the week, we celebrated with our farm interns over breakfast with more incredible local food, and the abundance continued.

Butter homemade by Nicole from raw milk from Katie the cow next door.

Eggs from Gecko's chickens cooked to perfection by Dau

Butternut squash bread by Nicole

Homemade jams

I am deeply grateful not only for the abundance of nourishing, beautiful, and delicious food that we get to enjoy, but for the wealth of community that we create by connecting across kitchen tables and chopping blocks and farmers market stands.

Some of the people who helped grow food on the farm this year.


Cabbage Tree Farm said...

Awesome, so much good stuff there.

Milkweed said...

Thanks, Cabbage!