Leverett is in the wooded foothill at the edge of a fertile farming region. We go through the year aware of the planting and harvesting cycles. In the Spring we’re inundated with asparagus and the summer rolls out vegetables like peppers and tomatoes followed by berries, peaches and apples in their turn but it was a recent harvest, this time from the forest, that got me thinking.
Our neighbor Claudia is an avid gardener and she also does some foraging for mushrooms in the woods around us. A huge variety grows locally and has great potential for food and medicines but I have not yet been trained to know how or what to harvest so I’ve held off. Well, she messaged us yesterday to say that she had 20 pounds of oyster mushrooms, and did we want any? Wow! Well, yeah, of course.
We don’t visit often, that’s not intentional, it’s just life being the way it is. Our neighborhood is not as dense as they are in the suburbs of Boston so you don’t bump into your neighbors daily. Or even weekly for that matter, but it’s always nice when we do. This offer was a rare chance to chat, catch up and be familiar with her. In going over to pick up our share of her mushrooms we met her new cat, learned about a cool appliance she’d found for infusing oils and a vented lid gadget she uses for canning pickles. She also offered to share some favored recipes she has for mushrooms. It was a pretty great exchange and we came away feeling that much closer to her.
So this is my point; in order not to waste these wonderful, fresh local mushrooms she had reached out to us and other friends. In turn, we had extra so we shared them with Jonah and Heron, who rent our apartment, and that was another nice exchange. It hit me that this was a community-building thing. We all love the local, fresh produce and hate to see waste. Because of that, we also benefitted socially.
Community-building is a natural upshot, an added perk in the scheme of environmentally conscious living I hadn’t anticipated.