This is a guest blog written by Rachel Freifelder of Living City and Handmade Gardens. We connected with Rachel through Portland Society, a nonprofit business alliance of professional women who are passionate about bicycling in Portland.
It is mid-January and the weather has been truly wintry. The memories of the mild fall, the late frost-date, fade so quickly when freezing fog slicks the streets and fingertips burn with cold! The sunshine is, of course, a welcome tradeoff for the dip in temperatures. I linger in it this afternoon, admiring the thin, yellow light slanting over the brave, sturdy vegetables still thriving in the garden.
These plants grew strong in the summer sun, some of them planted way back in spring, sizing up before the equinox to ensure their survival through the winter. The leeks jut at angles from their rows, their tops burned brown on the edges from the frost. The hot pink and orange stems of the rainbow chard reach to the sky, leaves stretching to arrowheads, the plants threatening to bolt. The parsnips don’t look like much from this side of ground level, but I can imagine them, fat and sweet under the soil. Three different kinds of kale, thyme creeping around the end of the row, bright rosettes of chicory, winter abundance! And a few things tucked in—garlic, flower seeds—that whisper of the spring and summer harvests to come.
The garden I am standing in is the demonstration plot for Living City’s course in year round food gardening. The plot provided our 2012 students with an example and reference tool, as well as a place to develop their skills. We mentor our students through a full season of gardening, providing them the plants, seeds and know-how to eat from their gardens all year long.
Soon I will be making site visits to our new 2013 students, biking to St. Johns and Southeast and hopefully to a few in our own Cully neighborhood. Some students will ask for extra onsite help with their gardens, which I’ll provide as Handmade Gardens, a one-woman bicycle-based garden service. Winter adds excitement to every mile I travel. The ladies of Living City often ride together to meetings, errands, and our December interview on KBOO. Portland Pedal Power, another woman-owned, bicycle-based business, pedals through the freezing rain to deliver hot food to warm your cockles at work; we mainly deliver good advice, to help you make your own food at home.
A garden meal, harvested in the fresh air, is always a true pleasure for me. But it is this time of year, right in the middle of winter, when it is especially sweet and satisfying. I hope that all of last season’s students are enjoying their harvests as much as I am!
Want some help growing your own? Classes begin February 9. Please visit www.livingcitypdx.com for details about our program.