The life experience of which I’m most proud is the eight month stint I spent as an intern at a small family farm in Central Virginia. To name a few tasks, I weeded, hoed, started seedlings, transplanted starters, staked tomatoes, picked tomatoes, picked rocks (no, really), harvested all sorts of greens, and mulched. And mulched, and mulched, and mulched – round bales, square bales, bales filled with moldy straw, and once even a bale with a few dead mice.
All of that oh-so-glamorous work made me strong, physically and mentally, and taught me how to use my body. I developed muscles in places where I didn’t know I could have muscles (see: forearms)! My appetite also went from healthy to ravenous. Happily, my co-workers and I ate like kings, and at virtually no cost. We took turns cooking for each other, which meant that one person would leave the field about an hour before the rest of us to harvest veggies and then cook for the group.
My fellow intern, Liz’s, specialty was pasta, specifically pasta with chard and goat cheese. That’s about as simple as it gets: one bowl and three ingredients.
Eight years later (good grief) I finally had a craving to make that dish myself. Alas, my chard was from the grocery store across the street from my apartment, not from the eight acre vegetable plot down the hill from my house, and the goat cheese was from Trader Joe’s – provenance thus unknown – instead of from our neighboring marketing vendors at the Takoma Park farmers market who would trade us cheese and milk in exchange for leftover produce at the close of market each Sunday, but it still hit the spot.