A Full Fall
This fall Growing Home continued to thrive in every way possible. We worked hard in the later summer to plant fall greens and as a result were able to continue harvesting large amounts of mustard greens, bhok choy, and collards all through the fall. Gardeners worked to dry and ferment the greens to store for the winter. Gundruk is a traditional Nepali dish centered on fermented mustard greens. It is surely an acquired taste, but very nutritious and a way to preserve the harvest for months to come.
We continued our tradition and hosted the second annual Growing Home Halloween Party. It was a stunning success. This year instead of a freak snowstorm, we got lucky with a beautiful crisp fall day. Over 80 adults and their children came out. Fifteen different families cooked an amazing feast – ranging from Nepali curry to Karen noodle soup and much more.
Painting an art was a major theme of the day – kids painted pumpkins to bring home as volunteers from Nationalities Service Center painted the children’s faces. Many of the new youth were able to connect to garden families who have been here longer through this day. Mural Arts worked with our teens to paint stunning maps of Burma and Bhutan. It was an incredible day that reminded us all of the importance of food and community celebrations. We even got to teach some refugee youth the American tradition of bobbing for apples!
After two years now, it is inspiring to see how our high school students step up and volunteer to organize the food serving, kids activities, and even clean up.
Fall has become the favorite season for many of our families as the weather cools, harvests in the garden are abundant, and vibrant activities continue.
This year we went on our second annual apple picking field trip. With nearly 100 refugees we boarded buses to a local, no-spray apple farm in PA. Families were overjoyed as we pulled up and came pouring out o the bus. Many have not experienced anywhere in America outside of the dense urban sections of Philly. These trips are very important to get out, breathe fresh air, and enjoy natural beauty that is so lacking in our community.
The farm was gracious enough to let us glean excess, fallen produce. We spent hours collecting fallen apples that were still fine to eat. Kids ran excitedly and screamed with joy at each apple they found. Half of what we gleaned was donated to NJ Farmers Against Hunger and the rest we got to take home.
After picking we had a large picnic filled with jump rope, soccer games, and much more. Everyone was sad to leave this truly picturesque fall day.