Our Growing Home Contest Winner

June 8, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Congratulations to Emily from Chicago, the winner of two tickets to the Growing Home Annual Benefit.

Emily submitted this story which was the unanimous choice of our editorial staff:

My mother used to drag my sister and I to the farmers market in our hometown in Colorado every Saturday morning. She would enlist my Dad’s creative torture methods to rouse us from our weekend slumber (water drip on the forehead, unabashedly tearing all the blankets and sheets back and turning on the ceiling fan) so that we could schlep her tomatoes and roasted chile peppers back to the car between vendors. She had her tomato-guy, her herb lady and a fabulous flower maiden that befriended me with dried money plants — still a favorite. Cantaloupe melons never tasted sweeter than when we returned home with a full carload of the days bounty and had it all safely stashed in the house. It wasn’t until I had my own adult life that I realized the value in the food choices we had in the summer frenzy of farmers markets and why my mother was so insistent on filling the freezer each winter or standing all day in the kitchen to clean berries for jam. After discovering chokecherries on our property, my mom rushed in with purple hands to declare our next adventure in preserving. She didn’t eat and feed us with local food because it was environmentally sound or the best new trend, but because it was the right thing to do to eat from your neighbors and support the friends we shared from 4H. After a few years of teaching in the Chicago Public Schools, living in a big concrete-encrusted city and attempting to educate young people about science (and how to value the nature in its void) it occurred to me that the best way to do all this is to live the example my mother gave me early on and be tenacious in my efforts to out-do her. (Darn, Mom, you were right.) My eager, urban teenagers are now analyzing their own eating patterns, their family food choices, where their food comes from and why it matters to support local people. At my request, they are reading Michael Pollan and watching King Corn and are making the connections between the the food deserts in our city and the access their neighborhoods have (or don’t have) to really good food. They are even cooking dinner for their families and writing poetry, toasts and prayers. My highest aspiration for each of them is that they eagerly pounce on their parents in the early hours of weekend mornings to rush to our city markets to get the best selection of beloved berries or to meet the people who grow their food. They have no idea, but it would be the greatest gift my mother could give.

Thanks to everyone for sending in their stories, we really enjoyed reading them.

For those of you still interested, there’s time to buy tickets to the benefit.