The Canadian Garden

I’m going to tell it to you straight; I hate gardening. Some people have a green thumb, I have a brown thumb. My mom went on vacation one summer and left me with her flowers. I killed them. Despite watering them every day, they still managed to die on me. Herbs are no better. Don’t even get me started on basil. If I lived in BC, I would probably make sure to have an apple tree on my property but I think that is about all I could handle.

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This round of the Canadian Food Experience Project is all about the Canadian Garden, something I have a love/hate relationship with personally. I want to like gardening. Is it fair to say that I like the harvesting part but not so much the nurturing part? I mean, I believe it is really important that we have people who garden and farm. I just don’t want to be the one to do it. I want the products that they have to offer me, I just want no part in producing them. In other words, I am a hypocrite. Pardon my use of a very cliche term nowadays, but I believe in all food being as farm-to-table as it can possibly get. But the last thing I want to do is dig in the mud and rake and water. Leave the cooking to me, someone else can do all of that. I’ll take the glory for all of their back-breaking work.

It’s weird, because I have quite fond memories of gardening growing up. My grandma always kept a vegetable garden in her back yard. There was nothing better than going over to her house, pulling carrots straight out of the dirt, brushing them off and eating them. Or how about those tomatoes, still warm from the heat of the sun. Potatoes were pretty fun to harvest too. It was like solving a mystery trying to figure out exactly where they were under the soil.

One of my favourite garden experiences may have been eating at Bouchon Bistro in the Napa Valley, while staring out at the garden right across the street from the restaurant. To this day, I can still remember the rabbit dish I ordered and the candy-like pluots that were served along side. I am not sure I have ever tasted sweet stone fruit in my life. I even found a picture, back when my photography skills weren’t so stellar.

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Although we don’t have quite the bounty of the Napa Valley, restaurants in inner city Calgary have been placing more and more emphasis on urban gardens over the past few years. When I worked at Boxwood, we had a couple of beds right outside our door. Rhubarb, chard, herbs, edible flowers, you name it. downtownfood is also doing something pretty neat with their rooftop garden, complete with bees and honey! Most of the credit still goes to all of the local suppliers though. Whether you are eating their food in restaurants or buying it at farmer’s markets, you cannot go wrong with produce from farms like Broxburn Greenhouse, Hotchkiss Herbs and Produce and Poplar Bluff Farm (their beets are to die for), just to name a few. I will leave the growing up to the experts and it will be better for everyone. That way we will actually end up with food on our plates, rather than a few scraggly leaves.

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