Ever since I moved to the Valley last August, I have spent my down time exploring local woods, and these days it seems like the scenery changes every time I head out. As I get more familiar with the landscape, I find that seasonal shifts add an element of surprise and novelty each time I return to an area. Now that we’ve hit mid-spring, if you pay close attention to the growth on either side of a trail, or even a neighborhood sidewalk, familiar spaces can begin to feel new and undiscovered.
May is a month of edible ephemerals, so I am learning where to find ramps, ostrich fern fiddleheads, and clusters of field garlic. I recently returned to a spot where I saw spindly, withered asparagus stalks this winter, and picked fresh spears for dinner; this past weekend I found my first morel mushrooms under an apple tree, whose fruit I harvested last October.
I adore working in Grow Food Northampton's education program because I share a sense of wonder with my students, everyday radical amazement at what we can find on the side of a trail, harvest from a garden bed, or create with a few simple ingredients. Most second graders have eaten apples, spinach, and carrots, but give them the space and tools to chop them up themselves and assemble them in a wrap, and you’ve created a completely captivating experience. None of us, myself included, have made a chocolate beet cake before, but we are all equally jazzed to prepare one together over Zoom in our Grow Food Cooks classes this week.
I have a vivid memory of the first time I encountered one of my students in person, him catching me at the door as I left his weekly recipe kit. He waved emphatically while I dropped the kit on the step, and we shared a moment of excited recognition, a mutual “Wow! You exist in real life!”
I look forward to recognizing more faces at the Tuesday Market this summer, or at one of our upcoming Giving Garden events, where we will harvest and cook some of the edible plants growing wild around the garden’s border. Through my work, and in all parts of my life, I hope to keep fostering familiarity with our food sources, with the land we inhabit, and with each other. And I hope to maintain my sense of wonder, of amazement, of everyday new-ness in my encounters with increasingly familiar spaces and people.
See you soon, and be sure to wave hello!
TerraCorps Youth Education and Community Engagement Coordinator