We stood in line for veggies. In my younger days, when I was cultivating a close personal relationship with at least twenty-five of Baskin-Robbins’s 31 Flavors, never did I imagine eagerly awaiting a luncheon harvested from the gardens of friends and neighbors. But, the annual Harvest Lunch in Coos Bay is irresistible. It’s a perfect introduction to some vegetables that folks may never have tasted -- or ones they might feel hesitant to cook at home.
For seven years now, the Southwest Community Garden Association and Chef Jardin Kazaar of Black Market Gourmet have cooked up a bounteous vegetable feast that’s worth standing in line to get.
Master gardeners provide the produce from their community garden plots and from their own home gardens as well. Kristen and Jardin Kazaar and their staff prep all the food and transport it, along with their portable grill and other catering gear, and orchestrate the whole event.
Patrons pour out of downtown offices and businesses, hustling to Ladybug Landing, the site of the original community garden in this area. Today, four additional community gardens thrive in nearby towns throughout Coos County.
Walking down our hill to the garden, Judy and I found our friend Karen (who is also one of the community garden founders) greeting everyone. A number of our buddies already had gathered. About half had just worked out together at the fitness center’s morning classes. For some of us, it was the chance to get together with folks whom we’d not yet seen this summer.
We helped ourselves to homegrown leaf lettuce with cherry tomatoes, drizzling Black Market Gourmet’s delicious, from-scratch raspberry vinaigrette over the top. Next, a marinated salad of yellow squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes awaited. We made our way down the line, where Jessica and Chef Jardin heaped our plates with rice and curry and a stir-fried vegetable mélange containing an assortment of greens, eggplant, squash, onions, green beans, and whatever else the master gardeners had harvested. It was colorful, gorgeous and delicious! And, healthy.
This event is one more opportunity for community bonding. We get to take in the lovely fall garden surroundings and soak up the beauty and peacefulness of the garden. One thing I loved was seeing all the people seated on bales of hay amongst the raised beds in the garden proper, visiting and eating.
Designated “runners” dashed in to pick up lunch for their co-workers. These angels swooped in and carted away stacks of take out cartons. Someone in line said, “We’ve been waiting all year for this!”
But, it wasn’t all veggies. Dessert was a mixture of freshly-picked berries cascading over a yummy, local vanilla ice cream. (Eat your heart out, Baskin-Robbins!). It was a perfect ending to the Harvest Lunch of 2012.
Now we wait, already anticipating next year.
~ xoA ~