On the Farm, There Are No Leftovers

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Sayle_Oct_6_eggplant_post.jpg

Photo by Carol Ann Sayle


In the last hour of our farm stand market, folks sometimes ask us, "What do you do with the leftovers?"

Well, you probably think that we would be bummed out that any vegetables languished at market's end, with no chance of being turned into, ahem, MONEY. But, curiously, we are not; we expect a few leftovers. We even cherish them. For example, the eggplants in the photo are the remainders of a table full of multiple, giant circles of eggplants with which we opened the market.

These too would have been sold, but Austin, The Live Music Capital of the World--so it's titled by Austinites, of course--celebrated live music from all over (the world) at the Austin City Limits festival this weekend. So of course, traffic was horrendous, as 50 million buses parked at curbs all over downtown and 100,000 music lovers jaywalked, biked, skated, and slogged through the rain to get to Zilker Park to listen, standing up, in the rain.

If there is an inordinate amount of leftovers, we hope our favorite neighborhood charity, Casa Marianella, will come by and get the eggplant and feed it to the immigrants they serve.

Meanwhile, we were trying to have our market--which half of our customers could not attend, as they couldn't get through downtown.

So in sympathy and in honor of the great beauty of these last eggplants, I arranged them in a facsimile of their 7 a.m. theatrical pattern, even though their numbers were diminished by those crafty enough to find alternative routes to the farm.

But what do we do with them and the five bunches of Asian long beans (out of 80 bunches) and the few assorted bunches of rapini and arugula that were left?

Generally, we eat them! We and our cashiers are first in line to claim them. But, truthfully, ever since I nearly poisoned Larry in our first few years of farming by feeding him eggplant every single day for three summers, as it was the most successful of our nascent crops, today we don't eat very much of it. Even though I read somewhere that it has anthocyanin in it, and that supposedly keeps the Alzheimer crud out of your brain.

But we'll eat one tonight. A green one. It's our German heirloom, named Daesene Green, after the friend who first gave us the seeds some 12 years ago. And the rapini, no problem, we'll shovel ALL of that down. We love it!

Now, after us, if there is an inordinate amount of leftovers, we hope our favorite neighborhood charity, Casa Marianella, will come by and get the eggplant, etc., and feed it to the immigrants they serve. However, they didn't come by today, as they are probably fed up with eggplant by now, not being too used to it in Honduras. I think they are waiting for cilantro, but bad news, there is never any of that left over!

The next option for donation of the leftovers is the Hen House. The hens wish hourly that I will arrive with copious amounts, wheelbarrow loads, of leftovers. They love any greens, squash, and cucumbers, but they are not big fans of...guess what? Eggplant--even if I cut it open for them. Some, like 15-year old Aunt DropTail, remember, not too fondly, those constant eggplant days of yore.

I also have to slice cucumbers and squash in half before they get really interested, as they want the seeds first, and the flesh next. After all these years, they don't have confidence in their own beaks to open those fruits up so they can easily get to the seeds. They want me to use my knife beak. And I do. This is an example of how I care about my chickens. I sometimes spend 30 minutes cutting everything in half. Sigh.

Now if nothing that anyone likes is left over, then it goes to the compost pile. Fortunately, microbes do not discriminate against eggplant. They like everything that once lived.

The end result of this is that nothing is thrown away. Our trash can contains nothing edible at all. We must, after all, feed "the world"--of the farm.

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Carol Ann Sayle is co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas.

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