Fall comes and I’m reminded my garden is far bigger than the confines of the backyard.
In fall, apple trees, figs, persimmons, and fall flowers reveal what they’ve been working on all summer and suddenly they’re everywhere! Take a minute to look, you’ll probably find what I’ve been noticing: containers filled with tomatoes, the last of the basil and a few hangers-on of eggplant tucked away on neighbors decks or along front walks. The spaces I cultivate are just one piece of the puzzle, a colorful patch that is part of a larger patchwork quilt. The same is true of all our gardens.
There’s something wonderful in this. It tells us our gardens matter and that together we can make a difference, whether planting for pollinators, creating habitat or finding ways to share the things you grow. It reminds me of those times when, as a kid, my mom would send me to the neighbors for a sprig of this or that, an egg to complete a recipe or a cutting to grow in our own garden — we’re better together.
It suggests that a little bit of attention can yield huge benefits.
Community Squeeze was born with this notion in mind. That together my garden and yours equal something amazing. Why not glean surplus fruit from all our trees and bring them together? We can make something new and share the rest.
What is Community Squeeze
In just the past two weeks I worked with friends to harvest over 600 pounds of apples from fewer than 20 trees. We borrowed a press from another neighbor, rallied a few volunteers to join in the pressing and spent an afternoon making over 25 gallons of fresh apple cider. It was amazing!
5 Key Takeaways From Community Gleaning & Food Making
1. When you learn to identify edible plants and trees, you begin to realize they’ve been there all along. There is abundance everywhere, it’s just a matter of knowing where to look and what to look for. The unexpected result is a new found love for these plants and the food they produce — suddenly they’re a cause for celebration.
2. We’re wired to harvest. It wasn’t that long ago that we all lived a life of subsistence revolving around hunting and gathering and, in the past 11,000 years or so, practiced agriculture — you could say it’s part of our genetic make-up. The act of gathering is deeply satisfying and connects us and helps each of us keep time with the seasons.
3. The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. As humans and creatures of the Earth, we love food and the process of making food — as simple as it may seem, it’s also fascinating and compelling. Shows like Top Chef, Chopped and Chef’s Table are a testament to this intrinsic preoccupation.
4. Food brings us together. The growing and making of food reminds us we’re not alone in this thing called life. When we practice and take part in food making in the company of others it solidifies this bond and brings us together as a community. You can see in the photos below that it’s really a beautiful thing.
5. The ugliest fruit can produce the best tasting food. This is especially true of cider. An apple you may pass up as an eating apple is usually perfect, if not better, for cider making. What was once ugly becomes beautiful and you discover there’s a whole world of possibility that’s gone unexplored, simply because of how we’ve been conditioned to think about food. Hosting your own Community Squeeze and/or taking part in gleaning and food making is a fabulous vehicle for shifting pillars of thought and changing how we see our communities and our gardens.
Related post: Community Squeeze| 1st Annual Community Cider Pressing
Related post: Summer Harvesting Tips
Read more about Community Squeeze in this Marin Independent Journal article: Glean, press, pass the apple cider
Find Community Squeeze on Facebook: Community Squeeze