I don't know about where you live, but it has been so incredibly hot this summer. Our once-green pastures have turned to brown. Besides the sounds of crickets and frogs, an evening stroll through the pasture is also accompanied by a tell-tale crunching sound that farmers dread.
Thankfully, we worked hard to set up drip-lines before the drought hit. Our plants did well considering the heat and lack of rain. For the past several months, we have been enjoying mouth-watering heirloom tomatoes and juicy watermelons.
Our eggplant harvest has been simply outstanding. I hate to waste food, so the bushel baskets of eggplants forced me to be rather inventive when it comes to preserving them. We have dehydrated it, frozen it, canned it, made it into cake, and used it as a replacement for noodles in lasagna! Thankfully, as the seasons change, we get to enjoy a whole new variety of vegetables and fruit in our gardens. I absolutely adore winter squash and after this feast of eggplant, I am so ready to trade in my eggplant cake for a thick slice of pumpkin pie.
When I think of autumn not only does winter squash pop into my mind but also delicious apples. When Jere and I first got married, we planted several heirloom fruit trees on our farm. This is the first year that we have been able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to watch the fruit ripen and then finally to see my daughter Sasha pick an apple from a tree that we planted.
It's amazing to realize through the process of gardening and cooking with heirlooms that we are preserving our agricultural heritage. I challenge you to name another historic preservation process that tastes so good! Talk about fringe benefits! I suppose that is just one more reason why I'm simply smitten with heirlooms.
Earlier this year I had the privilege of traveling with our team to visit several rooftop gardens throughout New York City. It was an amazing experience and further cemented in my mind that no matter where you are you can grow your own food! It doesn't matter if your background music is that of horns and sirens or mockingbirds. It can be done, and it can be done incredibly well with an abundant harvest, no matter your circumstances.
Next stop on my trek to find more amazing stories for you is The National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, California, to be held September 11-13. I will be in the company of over 15,000 others who are passionate about their food supply and preserving heirlooms for future generations. It’s a life-changing event that connects farmers from around the world.
We’ll also be working hard to get the word out about Prop 37, California's GMO labeling initiative. We firmly believe it’s your right to know what you’re eating. If we can get this passed in California, we will be well on our way to making a change throughout the rest of the country.
This fall savor each day in your garden and be sure to snatch up those last few seeds for drying before the frost. Then, as the cool winds of early winter start to blow across the countryside, enjoy your well-stocked pantry — a delicious testimony to all your hard work!
Until next time —