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Microgreens, Mulberries and ‘Maters, Oh My!

7/14/2021 | Liz Walz, ASP - Executive Director

Category: Blog

 

These past weeks I’ve had occasion to cover Genesis’ kitchen so our beloved Chef Jen could have a couple of days off. I delighted in harvesting tart cherries from the tree behind the Carriage House and incorporating them into Rainbow Chard, bacon and cherry pizzas, Chilled Persian Soup, and cooking them down for a sauce over vanilla ice cream. The robins scolded me, although they surely enjoyed their fair share of fruit from the high branches.

Megan mentioned “you ought to see the Mulberry tree,” and so I did. Spent berries littered the ground, near the compost pile, they crunched underfoot as I harvested ripe berries from overhead. Washed and de-stemmed, they garnished garden salads, fruit salads, and cooked as a sauce, cheesecake. It took time to pick, process and prepare them. All the while I marveled at the abundant goodness of God, even as I wondered, “Do the trees know of the political disagreements vexing our nation and the world?” And I took solace in the repetitive, mindfulness in motion tasks of bringing fruit to table for the delight of Genesis’ guests.

We have been experimenting with ‘microgreen farming’ in the glass corridor and the shelved area at the end of the Guest Wing. Microgreens are nutrient dense, colorful and flavorful. The early crops took a while to germinate as it was chilly in May. June crops did well; we compared and contrasted different varieties of greens. In late June, the heat took a few crops from us – it was difficult to keep the soil moist and we learned that we need to move the small flats of crops to various locations, depending on the weather. In July, a crop of beet microgreens germinated so quickly it took my breath away. I gave thanks as I sprinkled them on avocado slices atop garden salads.

An early morning meditation these past weeks has been pruning 30+ tomato plants, in anticipation of tomatoes of all sizes and various colors. I’m not a very experienced as a gardener, but I do understand the concept of pruning low and unproductive branches to send energy to the fruit. However, as I squat by each plant grasping a perfectly healthy leaf, I find myself doubting, “Do I really need to take this one off?” It feels like an unkindness to the plant. In like manner, I acknowledge that perhaps it would be easier to prune Genesis’ abundant programming list, if we could tell which offerings would bear fruit. And I recognize the drain of being over-extended, trying to feed too many leafy branches, but unable to decide what to let go of.

And although Wayne and Dan successfully banished the groundhog from underneath the shed which holds the banquet chairs, it did not go far, as evidenced by the teeth-marks in the summer-squash, and 18-inch tall rows of headless Zinnias and Dahlias. In Diarmuid O’Murchu’s recent retreat, Doing Theology in an Evolutionary Way, he reported on the work of various theologians regarding the spirits and souls of animals. Dogs and cats, OK, yes, I could get behind that. But could they possibly mean the groundhogs, too? I guess there is work yet to be done in the transfiguration of my own heart, to be that generous.

The Great Spirit is at work around and among us as summer unfolds. The earth is sodden with rain, which will nourish the gardens even as it is flooding the basement of the Convent and Friendship Hall. There are fruits yet to be harvested and shared at table, more than enough even to share with the robins and the groundhog.

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