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The Good Earth

(post, Dee Greenwood)

At Just Food's CSA in NYC conference last Sunday Cheryl Rogowski, the famous black dirt onion farmer, spoke of the soil: of it being an integral part of who she is.  It's in the air she breathes, supports her body in space, provides sustenance.  She spoke of her love of digging in it and watching things grow strong, herself included. She quoted someone (I didn't quite get the reference) who said that the main problem with New Yorkers is they do not have that connection to the soil - that we live in concrete and are thus deprived of its magical properties.  

I have lived in this city all my life and I can tell you that there is some soil to be found.  But her point is well taken.  I would not run my hands through the dirt of Riverside Park that has been shared by too many dogs, nor do I see my vegetables growing in Strauss Park.  But early in the spring you can walk in Riverside or Central Park after a rain and smell mother earth.  There is something very primal about those first sweet smells of spring, before the crab apple and cherry trees bloom, when it is just the smell of the good earth getting ready for another cycle of life.

Membership in a CSA in New York helps connect us to the land through the produce we will consume and also through the farm visits most CSAs promote.  The farmers are delighted to show us city folk how food grows and I hope members take advantage of this.  And closer to home, there is the Queens Farm Museum, an interactive farm that demonstrates how food grows and is a lovely way to spend a spring afternoon.

Last weekend we had unusually warm weather and I could smell the soil beginning to wake up.  I think that particular scent, more than the temperature, is what incites spring fever in me and I've had my first dose.  I am longing for the next whiff of soil as much as the first spring greens.