Thanksgiving Bounty: Our Own Roses, Fresh Lettuces, and Greens + Seedleaf, Inc.

Exquisite late fall 2009 arugula salad, with vinaigrette

Exquisite late fall 2009 arugula salad, with vinaigrette

We have had light frosts this fall here in downtown Lexington, but our small urban garden keeps producing both food and beauty for us. Arugula and some tender lettuces taste wonderful and keep reproducing after the "cut-and-come-again" method of harvesting. This is our first year to have such beautiful late vegetables. We have beds of Tuscan and Siberian kale as well, also doing well.

I particularly enjoyed making a "use what I have" version of Chef Dan Barber's Kale Salad with our first ever Tuscan kale. I didn't happen to have any currants soaked overnight in verjus to include, but some organic dried cranberries and golden raisins filled in. Toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts, brown balsamic vinegar instead of white...and still this dish blooms with intense flavors. I am in constant, deep gratitude for the flavors of real food. This dish deserves gold stars for flavor.

For beauty, nothing beats our virtually non-stop, low-maintenance Abraham Darby rose. The bush itself is nearly bare and not lovely at all. Each individual bloom recently -- and there have been at least a dozen per week for the last three weeks -- is larger and more fragrant than the usual Abraham Darby blooms. This "pretend" old rose, developed by David Austin, loves its somewhat southeast facing spot in our urban garden.

The silver bowl, an old wedding gift I never thought I would use, works so well for the fully open blooms that when we used these blooms as a centerpiece for a Monday night Cornbread Supper, I used the photo on the Cornbread Suppers blog post for that night as well.

Beautiful Abraham Darby rose in silver bowl, late fall 2009

Beautiful Abraham Darby rose in silver bowl, late fall 2009

Abraham Darby and other David Austin roses are not intended to be cut for upright use and lack the sturdy stems of hybrid tea roses. The ease of care and the long blooming make up for the lack of stems, though, from our perspective. I am grateful to some far-sighted, generous gift-giver in 1972, who thought a silver bowl might be a good gift for a pair of youngsters about to set off to see the world and change it, too.

Much more recently, and much closer to home, I give constant thanks for the far-sightedness, deep kindness, and sheer physical work of the young people in central Kentucky who have created Seedleaf, Inc., with its mission of nourishing communities, quite literally. The magnificent London Ferrell Community Garden (and orchard) is a three minute walk from our back door. We have worked there some, but have benefited more. The late fall greens and lettuces supplement our meals, and sometimes reach a wider group of tired, hungry people when we make LFCG Salad for Monday night Cornbread Suppers.

As Thanksgiving approaches and the longing grows to give back something in appreciation of the abundance we enjoy, it can be shocking to find how hard it is to volunteer to help feed people, at least in Lexington -- or New York City, as New York Times City Critic Ariel Kaminer described recently.  Seedleaf is one of the rare organizations in Lexington that can accept and put volunteers to work in productive ways quickly. Seedleaf's volunteer work has generative power, and may include helping new gardeners or cooks learn to feed themselves. Even in late fall I see students and other volunteers working in the London Ferrell Community Garden, and I am sure the other nine or ten Seedleaf gardens and school or after-school projects have the same kinds of opportunities.

A few extras: London Ferrell Community Garden Pea-Pickin Party pics here and more London Ferrell pics here.

Related Posts: What a Saturday! The Earth Moved, Along with Trees, Blueberries... Feeding Ourselves: An Idea Spreads