It happened a few weeks ago while I was sourcing the produce to make this chutney recipe that I found on the web. I wanted to make the chutney as local as possible so I was asking around for apples.
In case you do not know, Newfoundland is not really known for availability and diversity of fresh and local produce. Blame it on the weather, the almost absent topsoil or the lack of support to young farmers but we have an estimated 2 to 3 day supply of fresh vegetables if an event disrupts the supply chain (more information on Food Security Network). Apples do exist but they are normally crab apples – perfectly tart for chutney, painfully small to core and peel 8 cups of it. That was when my friend mentioned that her mom had an apple tree, of “real apples”, and more fruit than she knew what to do with.
That afternoon I went for a visit expecting to see an apple tree in the middle of a manicured backyard. Instead, I encountered this extraordinary urban agriculture haven in the middle of St. John’s. Yes, there was an apple tree, as there was a pear tree, rows full of basil (now partially in my freezer in the form of pesto), garlic, lavender and a greenhouse with dozens of tomato and hot pepper plants. This is what I saw at the end of September when my friend’s mom had already put most of the garden to bed.
After picking the apples we went inside and among “to die for” apple jelly and “made from scratch” chai tea, my friend told me how the fruit trees were planted when her and her brother went away to university and how her mother hardly goes to the grocery store since her garden provides her and her husband with all they need.
Everything about that afternoon was absolutely perfect and seeing how in a relatively small backyard you can have so much abundance made my mind spin with all the potential that I have in my own yard.
P.S. – Found a lovely poem about crab apples on the Newfoundland Traveller blog.