Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

From the Editor

Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

From the Editor

Article excerpt

I just had to pick the green beans this morning before heading off to work. With last night's rain and the promised sun of the day, the beans would grow a bit too big for my taste by evening. The summer's bounty is upon us in upstate New York, only hinted at a few months ago as winter turned to spring and I was first drawn back to the kitchen garden to look for the first bits of chives or chervil, arugula or dandelion greens.

My Dad was a gardener, too. A good one, I'm told, whose vegetables he grew as a teenager won 4H ribbons. He followed the then new methods taught by Cornell Cooperative Extension, like using commercial fertilizers for bigger yields and hot water canning for safer storage. I'm told he also followed the old ways, like always planting your peas on Good Friday; salting and fermenting pickles and corned beef in stoneware crocks in a cool basement; knowing the value of cow manure for the best tasting sweet corn. His summer bounty was essential for feeding the family, where summers were spent growing, canning, butchering, and freezing to ensure food for the winter. He built a cold storage room in the basement of our '50s ranch house for the crocks and canned pickles, jams, and jellies. He also relied heavily on the new American Harvester chest freezer for homegrown beef, chicken, and vegetables. I remember finding his green beans at the bottom of this freezer years after he had passed.

When my sister and I rediscovered gardening and canning as teens, my Mom couldn't understand our fascination with this work. She associated these activities with long, hot summers, some when she was very pregnant--work that had to be done for the family. Sue and I did it for the satisfaction of producing our own homegrown pesto or chutney or jam, perhaps as a connection to our past, but not necessarily to feed our families. …

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