Not surprisingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about “local” food lately. And after browsing through our 2008 Community Supported Agriculture Guide for the Iowa City area, I started thinking about my own contributions to the foods that I eat. I reminisced about last season’s attempt to grow tomatoes, chives, and aphid-riddled zucchinis in pots on the back porch. And I dreamed of the aphid-free zucchinis I’m going to plant in our new sun-filled yard next year.
While I don’t pretend to think I can produce all of the fruits and vegetables that I eat in my own yard (at least not yet!), and I’m thrilled that I can purchase fresh, local produce from farmers like Maury and Sherry Sass, I sometimes forget about just how delicious, inexpensive, and fun hyper-local food can be. Home gardens take time, though; time you might not have. So maybe this year I’ll enlist the help of a few neighbors to distribute some of the work.
And it turns out that this communal work for hyper-local food has a long tradition in Iowa. Communal gardening was a way of life in the Amana Colonies, which, at one point, included some 50 communal kitchen houses. Each communal kitchen house was shared by multiple families, and the families would distribute the tasks of growing and then cooking their food.
While I may not be willing to give up my home kitchen at this point, I’ve taken some inspiration from the lesson of the Amanas. If you’re interested in some inspiration, maybe you want to take a trip over to Amana. The Amana Heritage Society offers information about Amana, as well providing links for guided tours.
You might just take home a few lessons.