After having just completed a 5 day Holy Week cleanse in which I abstained from food, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the importance of food and the gift of energy that comes with eating. Swallowing supplements every hour and a half did a great job of cleansing my body’s intestinal system and suppressing my appetite, but all the while, I knew exactly what I wanted.
Here at Sweet Ridge Farm, Dad grows about 12,000 crowns of this wonderful plant which is in my opinion is both delicious and a fantastic crop, as it grows for an average of 50 years. From April or May to the third week of June, harvesting the tender stalks is as much a part of of the morning as the suns rising is.
I love harvesting asparagus because it’s such a serene experience. At a quarter to 6 or so, the world is still so peaceful and seemingly immaculate. Being in the field (generally in my pajama pants) with dew beneath my rain boots and and in an environment of complete gentle, silence minus the serenade of birds singing, is a pretty fantastic way to start ones day. You could say that harvesting asparagus is my form of farmer yoga! Snapping the succulent stalks requires a lot of bending and stretching. This harvest is not particularly heavy nor dirty nor hard work. It’s just the right kind of work that’s perfect to be done at 6 in the morning as the sun rises further into the sky and the birds become more vocal.
The land on which most of the asparagus is grown has more of a familiarity to me than from the acquaintance of harvests. Memories of digging the trenches to plant the crowns, and later racing a mare of mine in between the rows without a saddle or bridle, truly united me to the beauty and bounty of the field.
After the asparagus had been brought into the house, it is culled, cut and weighed to be sold to Organic Valley and the Viroqua Food Coop. Not all of it goes from being processed on my parent’s gigantic Amish-made table to being sold.
A large frying pan here at the Slattery house gets daily use during asparagus season as it’s used to fry up daily portions of the harvest. Fried with bacon grease, and often times with a bowl of rice and sour cream, I am known to eat asparagus so regularly that at times I’ll have a bowl for breakfast.
Speaking of eating- I am hungry! Perhaps it is time to locate the frying pan, and fill it with a bit of bacon grease, and tender asparagus…..
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