Guest blogger: Emma Phillips, GleanSLO intern from Brown University
After finishing up another semester of college on the colder coast, I was glad to head from East to West for winter break and a break from winter. Most of the vegetables I’ve been eating lately in Providence, RI have been flash frozen, and not always intentionally. As an urban studies major, I focus on urban agriculture, and how community gardens can serve to revitalize neighborhoods, provide nutrient dense produce, and gainful employment for refugee communities. As I drove from San Luis Obispo to Talley Farms to glean, Orcutt Road’s rolling vineyards quickly made it clear I’d left the urban behind, and was headed back into the heart of Central California agriculture land I was raised on.
We began the morning harvesting lettuce, a quick and easy crop that left us feeling accomplished as we filled crates faster than we could unpack them from the truck. After leaving lettuce behind, and heading over to the leek field, we quickly learned the extent of our expertise, though. Leeks proved much trickier, requiring skilled paring skills that we slowly mastered. Gradually moving to fill even one box collectively, I couldn’t help but grin as Talley Farm’s employees left the adjacent field for their lunch break, as they must have found our novice attempts at leek harvesting quite comical. Nonetheless, after a mid-harvest secondary tutorial on proper leek harvesting methods, we managed to scrape up enough produce for leek soup, or stone soup at the very least.
Our last glean before Christmas, also at Talley Farms, brought together a tenacious crew. A preschool teacher, recent college graduate, an aspiring flight attendant, young professionals, and retirees all stooped over and got nice and dirty in a mud thick enough to rival the heartiest holiday eggnog. As we clipped away bunches of arugula, our biggest worry was tying the stems tight enough to survive transit. At the peak of the holiday season, the red and green of the radishes was fitting, and along with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, were the visions of fresh picked veggies making their ways onto the tables of local families.