Frozen Hope

My freezer is overflowing with hope these days, in the form of bags and bags of tomatoes, okra, peppers, diced  squash, beans and more-all giving me hope for the future. Hope that first of all, no power outages occur that would cause me to lose all that garden bounty, but just as importantly, hope that it’ll be enough to last us through the coming winter months, supplemented by whatever we can keep growing  under a hoop. I normally don’t like to freeze our veggies, for fear of losing them to an extended power loss, but we finally have our generator up and running well, so I feel a little more assured that we could keep that food frozen if we should ‘lose the juice’ for a while. Bottom line though, we’re still depending on fossil fuels to keep our hopes alive and that makes me uneasy.

I much prefer the taste of home canned vegetables to most frozen ones anyway, but because  of ‘THE MOVE’ this summer, it really managed to mess up our normal gardening efforts. The soil in our community garden plot still needs a lot of organic matter, compost and nutrition added to it before it will be able to produce large amounts of anything. Add to that fact the flood of August 5th turned Carver Gardens into Carver Lake, and it was, shall we say, less than a banner year for gardening for us. The food came in fits and spurts, rather than in tidal waves of goodness like it usually does. Freezing takes advantage of those occasional windfalls very well, but canning is well suited for the normal GLUT that takes over my kitchen every summer, and I hope to return to it next summer.

But, like the frozen bags in the freezer, I have high hopes for our fall garden. We’re busy preparing the new beds and will plant as soon as we can. Especially kale. Lots and lots of kale. It’s become our very favorite green. In fact, so much so, that we’re not going to bother with any other kind this year, other than lettuce. I also have high hopes for a long, warm autumn so these tiny seedlings will have ample time to mature before the deep cold of winter sets in. Luckily, kale only improves in flavor and sweetness with hard frosts, so it should be ok. With fresh greens, and our stored garlic, onions,squashes and potatoes, along with all those bags of frozen hope in the freezer, plus the jars of food left from last year’s canning efforts, the dried greens, herbs and peppers,  we should be able to continue to keep our grocery bills fairly low, even though I’m seeing rising prices on almost all of the things we do buy (and there are plenty of those!), including spices. The owner of a local produce stand told me last week that he’s seen the price of some of the spices he carries triple in 2012! I don’t know if those higher food prices are due to the nationwide crop losses this year, the once-again rising fuel prices (almost to $4 a gallon again!), or simply because it’s an election year, and what better way to sway hungry voters over than to point to higher than normal prices for everything come November? Do I sound a bit cynical these days? I call it realistic-but by God, I’m still hopeful that I can continue to grow food for my table until I’m too old and frail to lift the trowel. My garden gives me hope. My garden  IS hope.

A nice bright spot to note: ETSU Farmer’s Market will begin again on Thursdays, from 10-2 PM. Since it won’t be competing with the other area markets for their traditional WED/SAT spots, it will give us shoppers another day each week of just- picked foods to choose from. I’m pretty sure NOTHING we buy at any local grocery store was picked that morning. Along with all the seasonal favorites, it will also feature booths of groups that are working to end hunger in our area and to foster resilience through local sustainability efforts: think COOP. There will be local farmers, bakers,  and candlestick makers, along with a  beekeeper or two, free range eggs, grass finished meats, great live music and more! Hail to the Kale! And  hope!


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