Yesterday we hosted our first annual “Slow Food NYC Dig In” at Ujima Garden. There were close to 3o volunteers who showed up for a day of hard work. We got tons of work done and then celebrated our efforts with a delicious pot-luck lunch. We built a new 3 bin composter, prepared the beds for fall planting, started a new mural, installed new shelving in the classroom and much more.
I would like to send a big shout out of thanks to all the Slow Food members who volunteered their time and effort to make our Dig-In such a fantastic success.
Tomorrow should be an amazing day. There is so much food ready to be harvested at Ujima. We have white eggplant, Italian varieties, and Japanese. We also have a field full of swiss chard, kale, and collard greens. We have one HUGE watermelon that is getting bigger and bigger every day. On Thursday, our last day, we will be picking it and eating it with all the kids. I think they will be so excited because they have watched that baby grow for the last 6 weeks. Our corn is almost ready to be picked and should be ready by the end of the week too. Our bean teepees are about 7 feet tall and covered with flowers. Any day they will start producing beans. We have harvested anywhere from one to four cucumbers a day, and three of our cabbage have started balling.
Every day this week we have a feast planned: Asian, Mexican, and a home made pizza party with all the fresh topping picked right from the garden. A celebration for all the hard work and effort the students have put into the garden and into their work for the last six weeks.
Our group at Ujima is always up for trying new recipes—no matter how sophisticated a palate one might think a dish requires! When we made gazpacho the other day we weren’t sure whether the cold soup would be popular with the kids, but they all gave it a try and nearly everyone was a fan. Today we made California rolls–wrapping carrots, crab, avocado, and cucumber in seaweed with sticky rice. Perhaps an even bigger hit than the food itself (which, don’t get me wrong, was very well received as usual) were the chopsticks that we all used. The students left with a pair in tow as a memento of the day and to have on hand for their next sushi meal.
The beginning of week 5 is hours away with 15 days down and 8 to go for the entire length of this start-up program. My students at Ujima have finally settled into routine. They are more calm, relaxed, and excited about the work we are doing. On Wednesday we made Pasta with Pesto sauce with our basil we grew right on sight. Everyone loved it. Daillo said, “I like this a thousand more times than I liked the Fritatta, and I LOVED the fritatta.” (A swiss chard fritatta in fact.)
On Thursday, Godfrie returned, limping a little after his two week absence after getting struck by a car. We are happy to have him back. Unfortunately, Diallo wont be able to come anymore becuase his mom has other stuff she wants him to do. It’s sad that right when things start really getting good a student has to leave. Out of all the students, I think he may have loved coming the most. We will miss him, but hopefully he can come next year.