Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cutting the Food Bill and Enjoying the Season's Bounty

For those who don't know, I live in an apartment with no deck or patio, which is a first for me. I've always had space to plant a couple of pots for fresh tomatoes, but I chose to give that up for the convenience of location. The first growing season I lived here I really missed the taste of home grown tomatoes. I got spoiled and just couldn't find the same interest in bland store bought tomatoes. The farmers' markets in my area are great, but I was looking for something a bit more economical and a way to satisfy my green thumb.

A little creativity, a bit of negotiation, and I'm set. I'm swapping weed pulling and gardening skills for produce and home cooked meals. My first victim, err gardening partner is mom. She has great vision, but volunteers with a lot of groups so her time is limited. So far I've been able to harvest some English peas that were so sweet I couldn't cook them. I split the pods and ate them right out of the shell. Next, I pulled some rhubarb that I'm freezing for crumbles later in the season. Last week, I picked raspberries and lettuce. Yum!

After visiting a friend to see her chickens and her raised beds, we were commiserating about all of the work a yard takes. Her environmentally conscious son is home from college and has kitchen duties, but while he and his friends visit the chickens, they're not particularly in love with weeding. My wheels started turning again and we agreed to swap produce and some homemade Carbonara for help taming her front beds. I think she's getting the short end of the stick.

Finally, last weekend I was having a girls weekend and again yard work came up as a topic of conversation. Cher is an IT guru and is raising two children so her time is stretched already without adding the chores on top. This time negotiations included Phillipino home cooking and hopefully some homemade egg rolls. I think I'm going to have to work harder in the yards just to work off these fantastic meals!

Do have some spare time to swap chores with a friend? Gardening, painting, computer work, start the conversation and see where you can take it.

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