Rob took 5 days off last week to take a little holiday in California. Every holiday for him is at least partly a busman’s holiday. A busman’s holiday? This refers to people who do much the same sort of thing on their vacation that they do at work. The reference speaks particularly to a bus driver who takes a driving holiday-as opposed to a stay put on the beach holiday, or a cruise holiday, or a skiing holiday. Rob on vacation-he is gardening. He does a great job of putting his eye to the gardening news, no matter where he is.
So I get a look via his photographs of the fruit stand owned and operated by Earthbound Farms. The same day I am writing about how a long twisted stem is an element that could make a pumpkin spooky, he is checking out the fall harvest of California grown pumpkins and gourds that have long beautifully twisted stems. He tells me given his visit to California, that fall pumpkins are beautifully defined by what is preserved of their vines and stems.
Via Wikipedia, I learn that Earthbound Farms is the largest grower of organic produce in the United States. 150 farmers cultivate some 30,000 acres of land. The well known writer Michael Pollan refers to Earthbound Farms as “ a company that arguably represents industrial scale organic gardening at its best.” No wonder Rob was interested in their side of the road fruit stand. He saw varieties of pumpkins with which he was unfamiliar.
He was very keen about the arrangement of the stand. Pumpkins of different varieties were heaped high by variety on the ground. As much as I love an ordinary pumpkin representing orange in October, I am interested in all of those other less common varieties. Like any other gardener, I willing to experience variation. Whether I am looking at plants or produce, I like the opportunity to know a name or origin. The best of all-a plant, an idea, a design, an arrangement, a move, and a story that goes with.
I have seen the pumpkin Jarradale before-I just never knew its name. The story of this pumpkin variety I need to absorb. I will confess that I am surprised that Rob found pumpkins for sale in California. This surprise represents an illiteracy of a regional sort. How could fall pumpkins ripen in such a climate? I know-what an ignorant idea. I must have believed that the fall harvest is specific to the midwest. OK, I need to attend a fall 101 course in the fruits of the harvest. My photo visit to Earthbound Farms courtesy of Rob-eye opening.
The left long stems on these pie pumpkins were perfect to hook over a wire spanning the length of the fascia board of the fruit stand building. The same pumpkins line the railing. The display would have encouraged me to take everything home that I could.
I find it very interesting that every farm, nursery, or stand at market I frequent features gourds distinctively all their own. Each grower decides what seed to buy; every result is different. This is one of the simple pleasures of being a gardener. The element of surprise, mixed with a big dose of individuality. The need to imagine, choose, grow, and shop-and work like crazy, yes. This describes farmers and gardeners alike.
Should you garden near me, the fruit stand of Earthbound Farms is not available for a quick visit. No harm here-we have plenty of local growers who do a great job. I make it my business to patronize them, as I want them to be successful. The efforts of our farming community are never so clear than they are at this time of year. Whether you live in Michigan, California, New York, or Louisiana-it is harvest time. My advice? Load up, locally, whatever you can.