ELCA World Hunger

ELCA World Hunger staff and associates write about root causes of hunger, current events, and anything else they find pertinent.

Herbs? Hyacinths?

Posted on May 18, 2012 by Audrey Riley

Every spring, I look forward to playing outside all summer (some people call it yard work). In among the flowers and trees in my little backyard playground, I grow a few herbs — basil, oregano, sage, chives, thyme and parsley — and, of course, a tomato plant. Last summer’s parsley plant actually survived the winter, much to my surprise, and it’s a lovely dark green lacy ball in the midst of my perennials. The chives put up cheerful little purple pom-poms in early summer, and the glossy bright green of the basil looks sleek and sophisticated next to the white-streaked leaves of the variegated coralbells. They’re all as beautiful in my garden as they are tasty in our salads.

curly parsley

Hyacinth or herb?

Didn’t a poet write something about how if you have only two loaves of bread left, you should sell one and buy hyacinths to feed your soul?  I think the poet was hinting at how the whole person needs to be nourished — both body and soul.

The office building where I work has a spot outside the parking garage with a few tables and chairs where people enjoy their lunch outside.  A pair of big planters make the concrete patio a little friendlier, especially since the management puts some care into their seasonal plantings.  A couple of summers ago, the planters were overflowing with colorful foliage — and a closer look revealed that this riot of color and texture came from a variety of lettuces and other leafy vegetables. I thought that was a terrific idea, but one of my colleagues was appalled. Edible plants as ornamentals? What a waste, he growled; it’s a crime.

Last summer, the Hunger Leaders’ Gathering in Florida visited an organic hydroponic farm in Florida, and I saw more planters overflowing with gorgeous foliage. (The county extension agent complimented the farmer on his lovely ruffly red leaf lettuce, and he answered, “Thank you. I come out and curl them myself every morning.”) They really were spectacular — lettuces, bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries — all kinds of beautiful and fragrant plants cascading out of their tiers of planters.

A backyard gardener who admires the beauty of her herbs and then puts them in her salads. A building manager who made a patio more pleasant with planters filled with leafy vegetables instead of flowers. An organic farmer whose fragrant and well-tended crops glow with color and texture.

Hyacinths? Herbs?


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