What may appear, at first glance, as an emergency crisis is actually a well planned training exercise. Like Orlando Junior Academy, the Orlando Fire Department recognizes the value of hands-on experiential learning and was able to benefit last week by setting this old house ablaze. OFD has eighteen new recruits that were able to train in a “live fire” scenario in an actual residential structure, which is a rare and valuable opportunity. The house itself is located across the street from our school’s gymnasium and sits on a double lot. OJA owns this property and is looking to expand the current Edible Schoolyard program to address the needs of the greater community. Rather than simply bulldoze this building down, OJA realized it could be used for educational purposes by the fire department. Since it is OJA’s desire to be engaged in its community and partner with those who make that community a better (and safer) place to live, OJA agreed to let the fire department have free access. None of this would be possible of course, without the generosity of Florida Hospital and Brasfield & Gorrrie, who have agreed to support our Edible Schoolyard by removing what is left of the house and preparing the lot for future development. These are the kinds of partnerships that we see as being vital not only to the success of our school as an institution but to our graduating students as well. It is our hope that children leave OJA with the desire to be an integral part of their community, receiving graciously and giving generously, equipped and inspired to make a difference.
There are many aspects of gardening that encourage the development of patience. Gratification is hardly instant in food production. Rarely, however, are patience and restraint required to partner together so desperately as when dealing with the agony of growing asparagus. Fresh asparagus is certainly worth the square footage required to grow it and of course good soil and seeds are hardly a sacrifice. The time one must wait to actually eat it, however, is ridiculous. Most gardeners are ready to accept the fact that after the average vegetable seed is planted, there is no need to set the table for at least a couple of months. This flies in the face of our “fast food” culture but it’s doable. Asparagus on the other hand gives “slow food” a whole new meaning. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you may remember our students planting asparagus seedlings in our garden. Click here to read about it. Yes, that’s right, it’s been almost a year. To this date the amount of asparagus that’s been eaten or should we say “tasted” from that planting would not equal a single serving size. The goal with asparagus is to let each plant develop and grow to the size where it won’t miss a few shoots of new growth each spring. Asparagus is a perennial plant that, when mature, can produce for twenty years but it can take two or three years before it reaches maturity. Even worse is that while waiting for that to happen, these plants send up shoots that look like the one pictured above. You know it’s crisp. You know it’s juicy. You know it’s delicious. You know that asparagus is the vegetable of kings. You know you can’t have it.