September is the most delicious month in Solvang.
As I drove my kids to school the other morning, it made me smile because in that short two mile stretch I pass by Ted and Peggy’s apple orchard (Apple Lane), Rosa’s strawberry stand (where she sells corn, tomatoes, blueberries and raspberries as well), Fred’s place where we get the most amazing peaches and pears, and Tiffany who sells avocados. Just past the turn off for school we can pick our own raspberries and blackberries at the Morrell’s, get different apple varieties from the Dittmar’s and someone new has joined the bounty with a sign out for plums. And then there’s the grapes. We are in the middle of wine country here!
Right now I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver, a nonfiction book about a family trying to grow their own fruits and vegetables and eat only locally produced food. And I’m realizing how lucky we are every September to have this incredible farmer’s market of friends and neighbors.
Knowing where your food comes from is becoming a rare thing in this country. Kingsolver’s thesis, if you will, is that our food system is based on petroleum because so much is transported across the country, exported to other countries and imported back to us.
For two years I was in charge of the lunch program at my kids’ school along with my friend Dana. (Trust me, the lunch lady jokes knew no end in my household!) As “lunch ladies,” Dana and I worked hard to make sure the kids were getting fresh, healthy food and we tried to provide local produce with every meal. Dana took things one step further: she revived the school garden. That small connection to food, growing things and then tasting what they’d created, made a huge impact on those kids. Mine were always excited to bring home what they’d grown so we could use it in a meal.
|Sorting dirt to mix with straw and water to build a cob house.|
This past spring she helped the sixth grade class build a cob house that will serve as a greenhouse for starting seedlings this year. Those kids got dirty. Really dirty. For a few, this was traumatizing. Seriously. But what a science lesson they got from that project!
Not everyone can make as huge an impact as Dana. But we can all make more of a conscious effort to support our local economies by eating food that’s raised right where we live. Trust me, the rewards are delicious.