Last week, after coming back from the Christmas break, I caught up with CERES farmer Vince Fitipaldi at the warehouse (that’s him above). With such a dry start to Summer I feared I would be returning to a drought stunted field. Vince, however, seemed unusually animated and let mention that he had a few nice zucchini growing.Next day down at Joe’s Market Garden everything was looking surprisingly good; there was a big crop of tomatoes, a picked over row of beans with new ones on the way, a test patch of eggplants coming on nicely and then I saw them – the zucchinis. Straight rows of deep green plants in the rudest of good health, plant after plant sitting high on their raised beds, leaves shiny, full of flowers and lots of new fruit coming on. I looked along the row and there was not a plant that hadn’t grown to its full potential.
What I was seeing was the rare coming together of soil preparation, seed selection, planting time, good weather, weeding and watering – the perfect crop. So many variables, so many things that could go wrong but didn’t and here’s Vince, who has grown food for decades, standing at the top of the row grinning at me like this was his first harvest.
Every now and again, whether it’s in our personal lives, our work, our art, our sports or our kitchens, sometimes all the pieces just click together in such a deeply satisfying way that you have to stand back for a moment and appreciate. So with all the vicarious pleasure in the world I stood there for a little while with Vince and his apprentice, Emily, and just soaked up some extraordinary zucchini.
Vince and Em’s lebanese and black zucchinis are in our produce boxes and also in the webshop You can visit Joe’s Farm Gate and talk to Vince and Emily and buy their produce every Saturday from 10am. Find it on the Merri Creek bike path between the Harding St Swing Bridge and Edna Grove, Coburg.
Speaking of zucchini, coinciding with this year’s CERES Harvest Festival on Saturday March 19th is National Put a Zucchini on your Neighbour’s Door Step Day. At first hearing it sounds funny and reminds me of the zucchini fatigue we suffered as children – a result of my dad’s abundant gardening skills. But there’s a deeper thing going on with NPAZOYNDS Day than getting rid of some unwanted marrows; it’s about knowing the people who live around us, about sharing the surplus of something that we grew ourselves (doesn’t just have to be zucchini) and injecting some frivolousness into a world that sometimes takes itself far too seriously.