Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guest Post by Emily Cecil

We are getting close to a full tomato harvest! They have been ripening on the vine for several 
days now. There are so many that are on the verge of ripening all at once that I recommend 
we set a time for us to meet at the garden to pick them together. That 
way no one gets the lions share. 

As you can see here, the zucchini plants have been prolific. My zucchini bread recipe has 
been well used this summer. It never leaves my house though, it tastes too good. I should 
make several loaves simultaneously so you can taste it. 
Interestingly, the Burmese immigrants I've been assisting 
this summer at the ROC program taught me how to eat 
more of the plant. Look at the long, thick, round stems. As 
the leaf gets old, they taught me how to pick them off from 
the main body, slice them into rings, and then stir-fry or 
sauté them. The flowers that would overproduce on the 
plant can be picked and stir-fried or sautéed, also. Yum! I 
recommend each of you try at least one stem. If you have 
any raw-food eating friends, they may like these to replace 
pasta, since the rings are so pretty when sliced. They can 
easily be added to any gazpacho soup, too. 

The onions have suffered from heavy traffic, invasion 
by our melon plant, and uneven watering. But they 
are so tasty when sliced onto a fresh green salad, 
added to pasta sauce, or cooked into scrambled 
eggs. And that's just the tip of the iceberg for them. 
Our carrots were not thinned until recently, but still taste very nice. Next year we should give them an earlier thinning along with planting more of them. 

I had never planted melons before, and I'm still not sure about these. They grew out of hand 
before I was informed that only a select few of the flowers should be left on the stems in order 
to allow the remaining ones to grow well. The vines invaded the onion and had to be very carefully cut back. Their story isn't finished yet.

I had the privilege 
to work with Dr. Maria Sanchez (on right) at the 
ROC, Realizing Our Community, for both 
the refugee men and women. Of course 
that means their children, too. In our limited 
way, we communicated about the 
importance of fresh vegetables (they 
planted an organic garden at the Clay 
Center), fruits, water, caffeine, sugar intake and food preparation. 
Then while they had other volunteers teach them daily living skills, I would take the adults to
one-on-one sessions to teach the alphabet, letter 
sounds, and common phrases. We even practiced common 
songs such as "Happy Birthday". 
 The children would follow the lead of the parents and taste 
the foods, pronounce the words, and sing the songs. I did 
some one-on-one ESL with them, as well. 
Sewing quickly became refugees' favorite class. This kept them at the center for longer hours, 
a good development. This gave Dr. Sanchez, the other volunteers, and I more contact time 
with them to teach them valuable community integration skills. Dr. Sanchez asked me to 
develop a calendar, with space for each name, in order to keep an attendance record. I was 
able to do this for the months of July and August. It helped each refugee start learning to 
recognize his/her own name in the English alphabet. For those who didn't know how, I helped 
each one learn to write them, as well. 

Thank you Emily for a great post!!!