Letter From the Publishers, July 2019
Agriculture––our region’s crowning glory––takes center stage this month with fresh perspectives on how and where we grow our food, from urban and suburban landscapes in pots on balconies and windowsills to small family farms and backyard gardens.
Reflections of my own joy at gathering fresh herbs, kale and tomatoes from our backyard plot bring to mind memories of my grandparents’ vegetable garden and the taste of fresh lima beans, green beans and tomatoes, and sweet corn, frozen in the dog days of summer to be enjoyed at family gatherings all year round. While a hospice social worker, travels to visit patients would take me into the most picturesque agricultural areas of our region, providing opportunity along the way to stop at roadside farm stands and pick up fresh summer bounty for that day’s dinner along with a bunch of fresh-cut flowers for the table. And Saturday shopping at a favorite farmers’ market has become a cherished routine. There is something grounding and tender about receiving a bunch of carrots, tops attached, fresh watermelon, beets with greens, melons and radishes, onions, lettuce and parsley handed over by the same hands that planted and nurtured them.
Perhaps there is a certain loving energy that exists within food that has been tended with care, cleaned and washed and arranged on market tables to delight the eye. Positivity is played forward as we consciously and lovingly prepare a meal as a gift to ourselves and our family, taking time to mindfully savor the flavors and envision its nourishing work in our body.
This week’s market purchase included bundles of fresh parsley, mint and cilantro, perfect for summer salads and smoothies and as a cooling complement to main dishes. Full of health benefits such as increasing immunity, lowering blood pressure and improving mineral balance, hydration, energy and healthy skin, herbs offer more than a tasty addition. We share some of the best herbs for this time of year in “Summer Eating: The Herbal Connection” on page XX.
Despite living in the leading state in the nation for farm produce sold directly to the consumer, not everyone in our region has easy access to fresh and local fruits and vegetables. We applaud the efforts of Penn Street Market, in Reading, and Eastern Market in Lancaster, along with Rodale Institute’s Mobile Farmers’ Market for bringing fresh, local foods to urban locations where access is challenged.
And though we are in the heart of PA farmland, we may not all have experiences of backyard gardens or know how to help herbs thrive in a pot on our window sill. That need not stop us from venturing forward; along with greenhouses, herbalists and garden clubs, there is a small dedicated crew of experts planted in nearly every county across the nation, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Help for Home Gardeners: Extension Agents at Your Service”, on page XX, details the resources available, including low- or no-cost soil testing, handbooks on a variety of local gardening topics and workshops on everything from making rain barrels and creating rain gardens to implementing eco-friendly pest control, cultivating native plants and employing best practices for organic gardening. We can also look to our elders or to neighbors and friends for gardening know-how. To those who enjoy a green thumb––why not share your expertise, and, perhaps your garden tools, with someone on their journey of discovery. You never know what will grow from it.
Lean easily into the comfort of summer’s light, cultivating those things that nurture and nourish your soul. Share leisure and adventure with those you love, in this season of abundance that welcomes us to feel good, live simply and laugh more.
~ Kendra and Jacqueline
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