Summer Harvest Exchange

The beauty of summer in the Central Valley is the abundant harvest—if you plant it and give it a little water, it’ll probably grow here. Come August, we’re up to our ears in corn (yeah, I went there), tomatoes, peppers, herbs, stone fruit, strawberries (they’re still around!)…the full list of what’s in season is overwhelming.

A couple weekends back, friend and super-foodie Tracy—who sometimes blogs—hosted a “harvest exchange” to celebrate all that’s growing and being cooked this time of year. She says her co-host Eloise read about the concept in a magazine:

Eloise thought it was a perfect fit for the Valley, as almost everyone has access to too much zucchini and there is a growing number of folks who are canning and preserving at home.  We also thought it would be fun to bring together her friends, (boomers) with mine (gen y) for some cross-generational tips and inspiration.

Here’s Tracy, with husband Nyeland:

We gathered on a Saturday morning (to beat the heat), and started with introductions,

And then we ate:

We polished plums:

And then we shopped:

For fresh fruit and veggies:

For dried herbs:

For pickles and jams:

And for other goods (kumquat vodka, anyone?).

It was incredible. And I’m still nibbling on what I took home. The event was a reminder that good food—really good food—should be shared with others!



Addendum for the parents:

11 Responses to “Summer Harvest Exchange”

  1. Lauren
    August 25, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    What a great idea! I was just reading about something like this in a hobby farm book I’m reading, so it’s nice to see it in real life.

    • james
      August 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

      It’s such a simple idea, really – there are talks of a follow up in October, but this kind of thing could go year-round in a place like Fresno (or in the Florida sun :-))

      • Lauren
        August 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm #


  2. Rachel
    August 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    This is SUCH an amazing idea! We’re living in a (less profitable) fruit belt over here in Michigan. I should give this a go next summer.

    • james
      August 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

      Rachel, if you have a few friends interested in gardening, you can simplify what you grow, coming together to share. I tried growing everything last year, and burnt out on the home garden (I bought okra for the pickles I made for the harvest exchange). Report back if you do an exchange!

  3. Tari Pie
    August 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    I love it! And I love your photos – the one of the Grape tomatoes is fabulous.

    What did you take to exchange? And, I want to hear more about the Car Talk and Greatful Dead Jarred goodies.

    • james
      August 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

      Thanks Tari!

      I quick-pickled okra from Fresno State (I didn’t grow a garden this year) – I used my friend Kimberley’s recipe: Warning: they’re addicting!

      As for those jams – the names came from the background music playing when they were being made 🙂

      • Tari Pie
        August 25, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

        That must be your okra in the pictures, then. Yummy.

        Love how she names her jams!

  4. Tari Pie
    August 25, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    HA! Greatful?….silly me.

  5. Bethany
    August 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    How fun is that! Very cool. The biscotti place in Clovis does a trade thingy on Saturdays, but this looks so much more personal and fun (and the food!). Now if I only had my garden going…

    • james
      August 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

      Oooh, I didn’t know about that event, Bethany! It sounds fun, and I like that they do it weekly.

      Hosting in a backyard did allow for more interpersonal interaction – I hadn’t met most of the participants, but got to know some well. And the food…that was a perfect brunch.

      I didn’t have a garden this year, so I picked up some okra in bulk from Fresno State 🙂

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