Yesterday, April 4, 2009, the Master Gardeners brought us back in time as they sold heirloom chilies and tomatoes at the San Jose History Park. While this location was not as earthy as the previous sales' location at Emma Prusch Park at Story & King, having the plant sale at the History Park was a fitting and timely reminder that this used to be called the Valley of Heart's Delight, as it grew and processed millions of tons of produce which fed much of the nation.
Today we feed the world information and communication technology, beginning with the silicon chip, which eventually became our new delight and namesake. Laptops, PC's, cell phones and digital storage devices have replaced canned tomatoes, fresh cherries and locally-grown eggs and meat products.
But despite all this advancement in technology and economic benefits, we still require food on a fairly regular basis. A strong message is creeping across our mass consciousness that we need to grow our food locally. As Michael Pollan suggests:" We need to (at least) shake the hand that feeds you."
People are joining Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's) and at least meeting each other in neighbor's homes where shares are divided and bagged for pickup.Our community gardens all have long waiting lists. A big boost was Michele Obama digging up part of the White House lawn on the Spring Equinox and planting an organic garden.
But on this weekend, hundreds of people showed up and quickly filled the adjacent parking lot and whisked off thousand of Chili pepper and tomato starts. Spring gardeners, being energized by the warm sunshine, actually also parked and walked along Coyote Creek for several hundred yards from the Happy Hollow parking lot to the History Park.
I bought just 5 starts from the Master Gardeners, including a had-to-have chili pepper called Neapolitano. I then ventured out to observe what wares and plants other vendors were selling. The old town square gazebo's nearby even had an old gent lecturing on the essential nature of water to gardening, I didn't think that I should intervene with a political discussion of managing mandatory water rationing and, at the same time, planting food that requires three to five feet of irrigation during the summer growing season.
A couple brave Water District employees also were present in a nearby kiosk to answer questions. I would have loved to hear all those conversations as well. But I was certainly not going to reduce, in any way, the enjoyment of so many eager gardener-citizens out on a Spring Saturday morning. Instead, I am hereby quietly rejoicing as I watch as the people of San Jose bring our community back to its roots.