“Someone ran through and stole whatever was ripe,” the man, a fellow gardener, said. He’d approached to chat with my daughter and me as we tended to our community garden one evening, warning us to phone officials if we saw anyone suspicious, but not to approach them. The thefts had happened over the weekend, clearing out the harvests in some plots, he said.
Our bed appeared fine — the five remaining cabbages were still there and all the tomatoes and peppers were accounted for. Looking around at the lovingly tended gardens around us, I was sad for anyone who came expecting to pluck peas or beans or whatever else off their plants and found them barren instead.
In my heart, I hope whoever stole the veggies was someone who needed the food — someone in a desperate situation. Then, at least it’s being used for good. The alternative — someone stealing for sport — just disgusts me.
It was the same week that BDN Homestead reporter Abigail Curtis told me about thefts from farm stand honor boxes. Farmers have used this system for eons — sometimes it’s eggs in a cooler by the roadside with a box for the fee. Sometimes it’s a farm stand with a box. It depends on the honor system — you pay for what you take. I remember one time in Cape Cod, buying cranberries from a roadside table and taking care to leave the correct amount for the two big bags I wanted in the box. I counted my dollars twice to be sure. Someone had grown those cranberries, harvested them and bagged them. They deserved to be paid properly for their work.
When Abigail later wrote the story, I was sad to read that in at least one case, the thief was a valued customer.
What kind of a world do we live in these days?
More and more it seems to be a world where trust falters. It’s also increasingly a world where folks can’t seem to see beyond their life experience to see how their actions impact others. Can we not count on the honesty and integrity of others anymore?
The ends don’t always justify the means. Sometimes the means hurt others.
Perhaps, this being my first time growing in a community garden, I am naive to things that have been ongoing for years. Perhaps this world — the one where the honor system fails — has been the one I’ve been living in all along, and I just didn’t realize it. I don’t know.
When my daughter and I returned to the garden to harvest a cabbage for dinner — the one that I brushed with lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper before roasting — I noticed our tomato crop. There are dozens of little, firm fleshed cherry tomatoes waiting to ripen. I hope they have the chance to, and that we have the chance to enjoy them. At this point, I wonder if we will.
In the meantime though, it was nice to enjoy the cabbage we grew as wedges brushed with a pleasant citrus-y tartness. Paired with salty, fresh, locally cured smoked salmon, it’s delightful. And it’s even more special because my kids and I created the meal together — from planting to plate.
- 1 head cabbage, core removed
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 oz smoked salmon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Cut the cabbage into 8 wedges. Place on a greased baking sheet. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Brush over the tops of the cabbage wedges. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 15 minutes. Flip the cabbage wedges and brush with remaining lemon juice mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and divide onto 4 plates.
- Top with smoked salmon, divided evenly among the plates. Enjoy.