Garden Gleaning

For a few weeks now we’ve been watching the neighbor’s garden with extreme interest. As parts of our garden slowly died off, theirs seemed to be thriving; despite the fact that no one seemed to be tending it. One evening we noticed the tomato plants were loaded with red ripe fruit in all sizes. A few days later we noticed the same tomatoes were still hanging. Weeds were overtaking the okra and the cabbage were long past needing to be harvested.

Tuesday afternoon when my mom was outside pulling weeds, she struck up a conversation with the neighbors and asked about the untended garden. “I just lost interest,” he said.

Lost interest in eating? That was my first thought.

At this point, I could launch into a soapbox speech on food waste. But I’m not going to do that. The neighbors are good people. When he started the garden, he was laid off from his job. He may have thought it was a way to feed his family or maybe something to occupy his time in the meanwhile. Regardless, it was a good thought at the time. Now that he has been called back to work, the demands of life have taken over, as they usually do for most Americans. And when there are too many demands on one’s time, something has to give. In this case it was the garden.

Rather than get upset about it, we did what any good neighbor would do. We offered to pick the garden. We had intended to do it for them but they insisted we take it all. So yesterday afternoon, we gleaned the neighbor’s garden, taking home 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket filled with cherry tomatoes, 3 dozen carrots, and 2 dozen okra. Some of the okra is too hard to eat so we’re saving the seeds for our own garden next year. Last night, we peeled and cooked a gallon of tomatoes for the freezer.

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