Fun in Eva’s garden

My cousin Eva Sommaripa is an innovative market gardener. She has been at it for about 30 years and her farm is always a real pleasure to visit. When Chico and I were there recently, we both had a blast. Chico met a dog he really liked and I got to garden with my cousin.

That grey lump isn't a rock, it's Mozzie, offering himself as a play-partner.

And here they are getting to know each other better. After this, the real play started. There's a bit of video of that at my post "Mozzie and Chico play."

At Eva’s garden here’s something like 8 acres under cultivation, mostly in herbs and greens. Eva is a wildcrafter, a barterer, a creative cook, and the leader of a merry band of farmers, pickers and packers. She knows 101 uses for everything she grows or picks from the wild and when she describes ingredients to chefs, her passion for plants and food comes through as an irresistible sales pitch. Once Eva has told you all the things you can do with juniper berries (believe me, gin is just the beginning), it is just about impossible to say “no” to a few pounds of them.

The space under this old apple tree is used to produce daffodils for market (they'll bloom and be done before the tree leafs out), there are berry bushes to the left of frame, in the front is a raised bed. Sharp eyes will pick out the wild onion under the apple tree. To most people, wild onion is a weed. Not in this garden. Wild onions, it seems, are used in high-end restaurants, perhaps pickled and use in expensive martinis.

Green houses galore, a total of, I believe, nine. There's something being cultivated everywhere you see those pieces of wood stuck in the ground.

The same general area from a different angle. That's Bill, the head of the packing team, in the red sweater.

Two little houses that are almost always full of people, greenhouse number one on the left, on the right with a brick chimney is the pizza oven that someone built for a wedding reception a few years ago.

Swinging the view to the right, towards the tree under which the wild onions grow, here's the rhubarb patch, under the rye straw that Eva grows just to use as mulch. Behind the rhubarb are rows of raised beds, just waiting to get cleaned up and put to work.

There is also a large field, surrounded by 10 or 12 foot tall fencing to keep deer out. It has rows of greens and herbs and tunnels, high and low, protecting cool weather crops that produce for much of the winter.

My pictures barely begin to show what’s going on there, so here’s a short video that shows the garden and gives some history of Eva and her garden. And here’s a blog post about Eva, chef Didi Emmons, and Wild Flavors – the cookbook that Didi wrote about cooking from Eva’s garden. And if you’re thinking this post is a bit off-topic, remember that Eva’s garden is where Chico and Mozzie played.

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