Tales from an Urban Farmer: Broccoli As Big As My Head

Reader Contribution by Kathleen Gasperini
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Have you ever noticed that when it comes to urban farming, there’s not much advice on what to do when you travel for work and must leave the garden plot behind?

Urban farming, by its very nature, means one usually lives in an urban environment—which includes many people who travel for work. But what do you do when work asks for another trip to “get that story” or “present at that conference” and your broccoli harvest is just about to be what you dreamed of being?

Photo By Kathleen Gasperini

Last month, I had to ditch my plot at the cusp of harvesting my first batch of broccoli that I have ever grown. I had to present for work our study on “Sustainability and the State of Youth Culture” at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City, and had to cover the highlights of the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Of course, these are both awesome gigs, and I was honored. But I also had my budding broccoli heads in my head. It had taken me a good 45 days to get to this point (my harvesting clock), and I was actually contemplating an excuse to stick around.

Of course, I went to Utah, presented to an appreciative audience at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show, and at Sundance was fortunate to get into several amazing movies, many of which reminded me of the spirit of DIY (Do It Yourself) which we urban farmers can identify with. I was re-inspired.

In addition, I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Robert Redford’s restaurant in Park City called Zoom!, which features locally grown produce and recycled glasses from the Sundance wine collection. And, at the Music Café down the street, checked out the performance of “The Head and The Heart,” which is an Americana band that reflects a time when the pace of life was slower, farming was essential and music was inspired from that sort of lifestyle.

Photo By Kathleen Gasperini

On my final day in Utah, while snowboarding at The Canyons, I was riding up on the last high-speed quad lift ride of the day in their new Orange Bubble chair with heated seats and was reflecting on what an amazing trip it’d been, when it crossed my mind, “But how is my broccoli doing back in L.A.?”

Photo By Kathleen Gasperini

Had I neglected my urban farming plot? Was the broccoli sprouting, consumed by bugs, dead before I’d had a chance to see what my first crop would end up being? When I left, the largest broccoli head was the size of my fist.

After landing at LAX from SLC and changing into my farm jeans, I practically ran to my plot in the community garden. There, low and behold, was the biggest head of broccoli I had ever seen! It was bigger than my head. Five times the size of my hand. Perhaps on the verge of being past its prime, but to me, it was awesome. Oh, how proud I was, an urban farmer, back from my work trip and just in time for a massive harvest!

I have since chopped up the broccoli head and created an array of broccoli dishes that are delish! By measure of the local farmer market’s cost for such a head (or four), I figure I saved at least $15. I’ve been making broccoli and miso soup with carrots; broccoli and chick pea salad with a lemon and extra virgin olive oil dressing topped with pine nuts; and broccoli with butternut squash. The list goes on.

But while I made it back from my work trip just in time, I wonder what other urban farmers do to keep their plots or patio gardens well attended when they travel? Neighbors coming to water help, but there’s nothing like the farmer tending the farm, no matter what the size of the raised garden bed in a community plot, or patio potted plants, or a broccoli head. Thoughts?

Kathleen Gasperini is internationally acclaimed as an industry leader when it comes to global youth culture marketing, research and branding strategies. She is the co-founder of Label Networks, the leader in global youth intelligence and branding for clients ranging from Apple Computer to Adidas Originals. Formerly Kathleen worked among leading youth culture magazines, as the Senior Editor of Powder and Snowboarder magazines, and the editor of Women’s Sports & Fitness. She was the technical writer for the IMAX movie “Extreme,” and is the co-founder of the non-profit youth-focused foundation, Boarding for Breast Cancer, for which she received a Humanitarian Award from Snow Sports Industries of America.

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