The Beautiful Garlic

I pulled my garlic on Saturday morning.

Pulling garlic is a bit of work.  The garlic bulb’s roots dig into the earth; some “oomph” is required to remove it.  That’s why it’s calling “pulling” and not “picking” garlic.  Folks with garlic farms sometimes have “garlic pulling parties” which is a clever way to get non-farming people to pull their garlic.  I endorse such parties; it’s important for non-farmers to connect with their food and understand there is no superfast 4G download for garlic.

I only had two rows of garlic this year, so I didn’t invite anyone over to help me pull it.

Late Saturday afternoon, my father and I prepared the garlic by brushing off the dirt, trimming the roots, and tying the bulbs into bundles.  Then we hung it upstairs in O’Pa’s barn where it will dry for a few weeks.

It was good to see the barn used for agricultural pursuits.

The French have a word, “provenance,” which means “to come from.”  The word is used primarily when speaking about works of art, antiques, and historical objects.  The provenance of an item answers the question “what is the history of this object?”

This year’s garlic was a work of art.  Its provenance is a beautiful story too; it came all the way from Hopewell Farms in Newbury, New Hampshire.

I met the Moran family three years ago through the happenstances of life at The Big Corporation.  I was just starting to get serious about eating local food and one of my co-workers said “oh, my nephew and his family just bought a farm in the Sunapee area.  You should go and see them.  They’re into that sustainability and off-grid stuff.”

I’ve made the two hour drive to Newbury a few times in the last 3 years, for Thanksgiving turkey pick-ups and maple sugaring parties.  It’s always exciting to see what the Moran family is doing and even though 2012 has been a tough year due to their barn fire, I’m happy to report they’ve won the 2012 Mother Earth News Homestead of the Year award.  It will be in the August/September 2012 issue.

The day I picked up my seed garlic was idyllic and the memory is one I like to keep in my mental memory bank.  It was a late September day, the leaves were colorful and the sky was bright blue.  I was on a two week vacation from The Big Corporation and it was delightful to drive north aimlessly in the middle of the week; there was no need to speed.

Driving up the twisting road to Hopewell Farms, I arrived in the middle of “men having lunch.”  Marc, his son Matthew, and Marc’s farm manager were eating lunch at a picnic table under a large, old tree.  There was a light breeze and a few leaves were falling from the tree.  Yes, there were mountains in the distance.  They were eating a roasted chicken, salad, and grilled vegetables; the dishes and cloth napkins suggested a touch of Marc’s elegant wife, Meredith.  N.C. Wyeth could have immortalized the scene for a cover of “The Country Gentleman” or “The Farm Journal” of yesteryear.

It was beautiful.

I picked up my seed garlic and Marc showed me new developments at the farm.  We talked about Joel Salatin, Wendell Berry, and pastured pork.  It’s hard work on the farm; the Morans never get weary.

They know from experience that there is life on the land and it is good.  That is the message and the provenance of this year’s beautiful garlic.

Did you pull your garlic yet?  What is its provenance?

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2 Responses to The Beautiful Garlic

  1. I did pull my garlic this year. It’s a variety called Chamisal Wild that was found growing around an abandoned adobe in New Mexico, reseeding and keeping itself alive for who knows how many years before being rediscovered.

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