by Bruce Williams, Bingham Fellows Class of 2013 –
Everyone knows where food comes from – the grocery store. If you want fresh vegetables, any vegetables you need are right there in the vegetable section. There is even a section in some stores called a salad bar where you can pick your own vegetables and make a salad. Yep, that’s where food comes from, right there in the grocery store.
Ok, that’s not exactly correct. But people like me, who spend most, if not all of our lives in urban or suburban areas, behave as if the local grocery store (or some type of resturant) is the source of all foods. The closest many of us ever get to original food sources is the shelf at the local grocery.
Which is why being able to visit Oxmoor Farm, with the Bingham Fellows class of 2013, was such a rich experience. In preparation for the visit we were told to dress for the heat and possible rain, wear closed-toed shoes, bring a refillable water bottle, and oh, be prepared to get dirty because we would be working on the farm. Now, it’s this last part, “working on the farm,” that initially concerned me. I thought we were going to visit a farm not work on a farm?
But, I pushed passed my apprehension and I went anyway. I’m glad I did. Of particular interest to me was the opportunity to personally pick some of the crops in the field. We picked kale to prepare a salad. We actually ate some of it in the field, right off of the stalk, before washing it, cutting it, and adding seasonings and oils to it. We even massaged the ingredients into the kale as part of the preparation process for the final salad. By the way, it was delicious!
I also ate wheat straight from the stalk! One of my classmates showed me how to pull a handful of seeds from a stalk, separate the husks from the seeds by rubbing the seeds together in my hands and then eat the seeds right out of my hand!
I also saw what asparagus looks like full grown. I learned that the asparagus on our plates is actually picked during the very early stages of the plants growth. It only takes one day for the asparagus to grow from a small plant peeking just above the soil to harvest size! That’s so fast you could almost see it growing!
Finally, we ended up pulling garlic out of ground with our bare hands, which by the way, didn’t look anything like what I imagined a garlic plant would look. We picked about 1,000 bulbs or more. I actually enjoyed it!
Being on that farm was a fantastic experience for me. Now, I’m not prepared to quit my day job to be a farm hand. But the hard work, thoughtful planning, health conscious, community-friendly, pesticide-free efforts that characterize Oxmoor Farm has broadened my knowledge about responsible farming, raised my consciousness about the importance of eating healthy, reminded me of the need to support efforts that provide healthy food alternatives and raised my level of respect for the workers at Oxmoor Farms.