Strawberry Flash Mob
This is a prosaic time of the year to live in an agrarian mid Atlantic community. Yesterday, sitting on the Red Barn deck overlooking the pond, garden and new solar panels, we got to talking about strawberries and rain.
It was supposed to rain for 5 days starting today (turns out it has not really). It also turns out strawberry leaves are very sensitive to being touched when wet. It is unclear to me if this is because of disease spreading by pickers or if they are just fragile when wet, regardless. We had a bunch of ripe strawberries and in a radical deviation from regular agreements, members were encouraged to go pick some before the rain left them unharvested and fuzzy.
Darkness was perhaps an hour a way. I talked it up and said “we should organize this, we should get bowls, pick strawberries and do it before the rains start.” in fact some folks already had some, but my pitch, combined with physically grabbing some bowls for people to harvest with, brought a handful of normally not int he garden folks to life. We made sure we knew we were picking just the most ripe (no light colored backs or white shoulders) and were working in the right part of the patch. And our little flash mod descended like hive minded locust.
We then found ourselves in this funny place of having more strawberries than we really knew what to do with. So after feeding several communards who walked by, we decided to use the for hammocks PIG. [PIG stands for personal incentive goodies – these are things which inspire workers to do my by creating local rewards for their efforts. Typically these are things to eat and drink, often cakes or pizza or other more desirable consumables.]
Organizing the flash mob felt both fun and slightly nefarious. The garden is part of the social zoning which goes on here. It is almost all the time filled with wonderful things to eat. And almost all the time we let the garden crew pick them and carefully direct how the food goes into our large system. This insures that things are well used and fairly distributed. And even tho it was perhaps technically sanctioned due to the impending rain, it still felt strangely out of bounds.
To say i have a distant relationship with our collective garden work would be like saying the Hindenburg was late . In the dozen plus years i have had exactly 2 garden shifts, both assigned to me by Bochie when i was on PAL (link) as a kind of penance for being here when i was supposed to be on leave. There are people who love and/or like working in the garden, they should definitely do that work and not me. It is the mixture of not really knowing what i am doing (weedding the wrong plant, harvesting incorrectly, running over stuff) and the squat/move/squat nature of the work which does not work for me.
But on this glorious night, surrounded by charming friends and allies, with storm clouds on the virtual horizon, i picked my strawberries with the best of them and enjoyed them both personally and collectively.