But his face lights up as he recalls, “A chicken was dying. Kids had come to visit, so I had to resurrect her. I picked the chicken up, stroked her, gave her food and water. I made a bed for her so she’d be protected. Been going on three weeks. She seems to appreciate the care, seems glad to see me.” I’ll bet that chicken’s glad to see Tom. His care is everywhere about this well-tended farm. “Hands allow us to know intimately, now don’t they?” Then it’s time to toss the salad made from his lettuce, slice the quiche and sit down for lunch together. MARIA LUZ REYES: La Milpa Farm Maria Luz Reyes calls her farm La Milpa, a reference to an ancient agricultural system that comes from the Mayans. Like organic farming, it works with nature, honoring the need for land to lie fallow following years of production and encouraging the raising together of plants that benefit one another, like corn, squash and beans. Her farm is set close to the hillside down a dirt track off River Road; it’s difficult to find, but there she stands in late afternoon at the edge of one of her fields, happily waving me down. 30 edible monterey bay Summer 2015 Maria grows a long list of vegetables—over 30 of them in all—including dino kale, cauliflower, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes, bell peppers, radishes and cilantro. When I ask this petite powerhouse of a woman with a twinkle in her eye how she feels about her hands, she says she likes the feel of the earth on them, but she is embarrassed by how they look. Eighteen years of working in the fields has taken their toll. When harvesting tomatoes, the stalks prick her hands; the soil gets under her nails; the hard manual labor causes her skin to crack. Yet her fingers are slender and pretty—she works her hands hard, but clearly she also tends to them. She says that when she goes to the market to sell her vegetables, “I wear gloves to cover them up.” When I complain about my own hands and extend them to her, she looks closely, “And you don’t work in the fields?” We both laugh. Maria Luz Reyes’ studious youngest son has reluctantly left his homework to come out to the field to ably translate for us. When I ask, Edgar says, “Yes, I’m proud of my mother.” They both smile wide and long.
edible Monterey Bay Summer 2015
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