Eichner says the church’s farm grows a wide variety of produce – in summer, cucumbers and and green beans are in high demand, as well as green onions, all manner of peppers, fava beans and Asian-style eggplants. This fall, the Farm has been harvesting cabbage and broccoli as well as filling two semitrucks full of winter squash, which Eichner says is popular with a variety of cultures and keeps for a long time.
“We’ve got about 60,000 beets out there right now,” he said, noting that a big volunteer contingent will be working on digging them out through November. Eichner said his parishioners do Sunday harvests from July to February, when cabbages are still growing.
“We’re at the latitude of Duluth, Minnesota,” he said, “But we have the winter of Charlotte, North Carolina. So we have an incredible growing season for vegetables.”
To serve the Portuguese-speaking population in Kirkland, Eichner has investigated growing green field corn, which in Brazilian culture is slow-roasted and almost caramelized, he said. “And we’ve had people stop by and ask if they can pick the blossoms off the pumpkin plants, and the tip of the vines,” he said. “Pacific Islanders like to use those pumpkin vines for soup,” he said.
At the Hopelink food market in Kirkland, Olga has filled a shopping cart to the brim with food, including cans of beans, heads of garlic and a huge bunch of colorful chard. “This is the kind that grows in Mexico City,” she said, noting she planned to make a dish incorporating chard, rajas [roasted peppers], fried potatoes and onions.
“This market really helps a lot” in reducing her costs, she said, and allows her to continue to live near her extended family. Before she leaves, she adds some fresh flowers to her cart, which are donated to Hopelink by local groceries. “These are a blessing,” Olga said of the flowers as she wheeled her cart out the door without stopping for a cashier.