Here are some spring seedlings (hopefully to become summer monsters) almost ready to go in the ground.
“Musque de Provence” Pumpkin
Sweet Red Pepper “Healthy”
One of our garden’s most generous partners is Kevin Fonzo, chef and owner of K restaurant in College Park. Kevin and his award winning menu have certainly helped to make Orlando Junior Academy a delicious place to learn. From guiding the development of our lunch program to teaching in our kitchen lab, Kevin has been more than just an inspiration to the students here. Whenever possible our students like to give back something that Kevin can use in his kitchen. Last September the seventh grade class planted, from seed, a variety of celery called “Red Venture”. They have watched the celery develop and start to show its signature red stalks. When Kevin said he could use some fresh celery for a few of his menu items we were happy to share. Look for “OJA Celery” on the menu this weekend at “K” and pass along our gratitude for all that Kevin does for his community.
Collard Greens are one of the more impressive plants in the vegetable garden. Sturdy upright stems and thick stately leaves make this blue green member of the brassica family a real stand-out. A staple of any respectable southern table, collard greens have a long and rich history dating back to ancient Rome. Sixth graders harvested and cooked down a generous mess o’ greens, added onion and apple cider vinegar for a little kick, and enjoyed every bite (there were no leftovers).
Anyone who plants a seed does so with at least a little bit of hope. How else could someone put a small pebble-like thing into the ground, cover it with soil, and soak it with water and expect something to happen. Why would someone do this if there weren’t within them, at least the slightest flicker of hope, a small spark of belief that something amazing, nearly miraculous, was maybe possible. Perhaps the greatest thing about gardening is that it gives fuel to that spark of belief. Digging in the dirt can strengthen and stretch many muscles but none so much as the muscle of hope. Ironically, anticipation of great things is one of the greatest joys in life. Any gardener who has brushed up against a tomato plant in early spring and smelled that distinctive smell has already tasted in their mind the tomato that has yet to form. An experienced gardener will taste the same tomato ten times or more before it even winds up on his plate. This is the beauty of anticipation.
Because of such strong “anticipation muscles”, built over many seasons’ labor, most gardeners have a belief that great things are possible and sometimes even probable. This was the atmosphere at a committee meeting to discuss and refine the plan for the community garden that is to be built on the vacant lot that the school owns across the street from the gym. This will be a great thing, a great place where Orlando Junior Academy can give back to its community, a piece of ground where neighbors can come and work together and share with each other, a place where tomatoes will be tasted in daydreams until their juice finally drips from dirty chins. A place where we can all build our anticipation muscles and learn to believe that great things are possible and sometimes even probable.
Many hands make light work. Thanks to all who spent a day of their spring break working in the garden.