Ay Leeks is Good!
On an overcast Saturday morning in May I'm headed upstate to Hearty Roots Farm with my two sons and 12 fellow East Williamsburg CSA members. We are warmly welcomed aboard the bus and look forward to meeting the farmers and the farm. The invitation to the Annual Leek Planting Party, planting of 10,000 baby leeks and 14,000 seed potatoes, was hard to resist.
Earth's cool freshness and spring tints are waiting at Hearty Roots Farm after the easy ride upstate. Weather vanes, hens, roosters, and squinting farm cats. The farm crew greets us and shows us the roots, er ropes, of planting seed potatoes and baby leeks. The grey sky seems low this windy muffled morning as we place dusty seed potatoes in soft trenches. Later when the white sun is high in the sky we put in thousands of baby leeks. On a day like this, it seems all we could possibly need is given. Birdsong, yellow boxes of potatoes to plant, new friends, lunch, green shoots, more planting, later the little lamb 'baa, baa' Blackjack enchants us with a visit. Hearty Roots Farm makes being green in Red Hook look so easy.
A leek is a leek is a leek: Ay, leeks is good. Nay, pray you, throw none away. Will they be sweet and mellow? A Romantic leek? Political?The taste of an honest farm workday will return over the next 30 weeks in our CSA shares. As a farm grows in my Brooklyn kitchen, visions of the versatile, dapper leek will dance in my head: in a neon kimchi; grilled with parsley oil; served with aioli. Favorite cookery writers and thinkers Jane Grigson, Edna Lewis and Katherine Alford will inspire my deeper summer cooking as they always do.
One of the many things to like about the concept of a CSA is how it gets children and families involved in healthy lifestyles. The idea sets the humble pleasures of the kitchen in motion. My home food garden begins in a pot of rosemary in the window. Privileges, responsibility, revelations. After all, we're still in the spring of the White House Kitchen Garden initiated by Michelle Obama.
For now, wish you were here to discuss how we will eat our leeks and other vegetables this summer. Or sharing intrigue on whom we'll share our share with. Planting row upon row with the boys, green horn visitors that we are, planting what we will eventually eat. Contemplating the purr of the electric tractor's background music as conversations fade in and out over the rows. Looking closely at baby leeks, each a portrait of young sturdiness with stark white roots in bright complicated lines.