HCD’s 100th Post: Eating the Blizzard

Wren on February 14th, 2010

One day, early on in my blizzard confinement, I traveled down my hill…Hm. I make that sound too easy. I pushed my way through waist high snow, pulling myself on not one but two walking sticks, sometimes wenching myself, using available trees, falling, disappearing below the ocean of snow, climbing up, retrieving my sticks, inching my way down my steep slope, digging my shoe spikes in with each stomp into virgin snow, until I made it down to Heathcote’s Mill, snow inside, between my jeans and long janes up to my knees, ready to find food.

The usual scattering of community members was about, along with a whole sporting goods store’s worth of snowpants, boots, gloves, jackets, vests, scarves, sweaters, and many, many wet socks.

And then I saw it: a tray of homemade, hot from the oven bagels! Nick, our newest full member and Heathcote’s patron saint of breads, bees and pottery, had just left them on the counter with this note: “There is abundance here. Eat when you are hungry! : )”

I was and I did! I got stuck on “A BUN DANCE,” though;  I saw little dancing buns. I grinned maniacally…Now I can confess, I ate more than my share…way more, considering that I’m supposed to be avoiding bread during my candida cleanse…

While many on the East Coast were rushing off to the grocery between snowfalls, I trudged the trench to Heathcote’s greenhouse, a plexiglas attachment onto a former corn crib, which is actually painted yellow, confusing many a visitor. the structure did used to be green, until then-member Mary Hall provided us with some fashion sense and now it’s yellow with periwinkle trim. I loved stepping inside our greenhouse, after pushing the door through the snow. Within were lettuces and chards in full color, next to plexiglas with snow banked five feet high!

When I took my turn to cook the community meal, I was determined to fill our giant soup pot with thick, crunchy vegetable soup, so our growing community would feel well-fed a-bun-dance. The fridge was full of leeks, yellow onions, red chard, purple cabbage…Along with green lentils, some fire roasted tomatoes from a can, and more, it was chunky, colorful and satisfying.

This past fall, Heathcote received a grant from the Koinonia Foundation to build a large hoophouse style greenhouse in our main garden. Many Heathcote members and friends contributed considerable labor to build it, in tandem with workshops, as part of Heathcote’s educational mission. Starting this spring, our hoophouse will significantly extend our growing season and increase the food available from Heathcote land, for both our table and market. Heathcoter Mike has been diligent about removing snow as it falls on the plastic sheeting, which wasn’t easy to put in place. Now snow banks up five feet and more around the outside.  The structure has held up well with Mike’s proactive care. It’s exciting to stand inside, the space is full of potential!

Yesterday, our monthly wholesale food delivery finally came, three days late due to road conditions, specifically our road, which had only just been plowed. Several of us gathered to unload the truck, count the boxes, inventory the order and put the food away.

Our diet is vegetarian and vegan, whole foods and organic as much as possible. At Heathcote, we grow what we can. (This year, lead gardener Betsy will be supervising interns in our Permaculture based gardens.) We also collect wild edibles, such as mushrooms, off our land. Then we buy what we can, wholesale and in bulk, using our collective buying power. What we can’t get from our distributors, we buy, usually at locally owned health food stores and grocery stores, such as Sonnewald, Saubels and The Natural.

It’s always fun to help put the co-op order away; It’s like opening presents. And it’s usually much easier to plan a menu for the community dinner after the order has arrived than while it’s due. But still, as we were waiting for it and living and working in our buildings connected by trenches in the snow, I never felt a lack.


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