Fall Harvest Season at GPS

Written By: Annie Reading - 10/23/2019

October is one of my favorite months in the garden. The frenetic pace of summer has slowed, but there remain abundant plants to harvest, and many tasks to complete to prepare for winter. In places and cultures around the world, the fall harvest is also a rich time for community and celebration. People come together to ensure that the fruits of the summer’s labor are collected and stored, to keep us healthy and nourished through the winter.

Where I grew up, on the highly agricultural Eastern Shore of Maryland, early fall is marked by the annual “Blessing of the Combines” festival. For the urbanites who might be reading this, a combine is a large tractor-like machine that is used to harvest grain crops like corn, wheat, and soybeans by the ton. Crowds gather in the streets of a local small town to watch the parade of enormous industrial harvesting machines roll down Main Street like soldiers returning from victory—everyone wishing them luck and fortitude for the months of reaping, threshing, and winnowing ahead.

While we, unfortunately, don’t have combines to bless here at Green Plate, a distinct festiveness abounds as the corn husks begin to dry and increasingly rotund pumpkins peek out of the squash patch. These plants, sowed by youth from our spring programs, will now be harvested and prepared by the eager hands of the youth attending our fall programs. We have ears of heirloom pink popcorn to be de-kernelled, runner beans of all patterns and colors to be shelled and sorted, gourds to be cured, and herbs to be dried. Meanwhile, the knowledge of coming winter calls us to plant cover crops of fava beans, barley, and rye, and to tuck our delicate greens under cloches to protect against frost and wind.

As with all Green Plate programs, such work is rewarded with fresh, handmade meals shared in community. The other week our youth made mac and cheese livened up by the last of the summer’s string beans, muhammara using our own bell peppers, spicy sautéed collard greens from the garden, and warm applesauce. We look forward to an autumn full of bountiful harvests, warm meals, and laughter shared around garden beds and kitchen tables alike. If you’d like to get in on the fun, please save the date for our fall community event on Saturday, November 16th. We’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks. I hope to see you there!

-Gardener Annie

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