peel me a grape

Submitted by Susan Miller on Fri, 10/17/2008 - 17:03.

Imagine our new juvenile justice center surrounded by vineyard. In winter these little gnarly crosses in matrix gracing the portage escarpment where the eastern plateau rolls downhill sometimes gently, sometimes precipitously toward the river valley.

grapes to come

Imagine the summer while the hillside would be green with grape leaves...

 

Then the harvest...

When I was twelve or thereabouts, my parents decided to take me on a road trip to Ohio. It was meant to show me the "motherland" - my father's motherland. I had often been to my mother's homeland in Georgia - Spalding County, just south of Atlanta where the dirt is red and the pines tall and glistening. I had experienced tomatoes and corn warm from the garden and even picked cotton and fuzzy peaches. I'd been up early wakened by the smell of my uncle's smokehouse and picked blackberries despite warnings of rattlesnakes.

But this was different. We traveled over the mountains and visited my older half-sister and her family in Louisville and then headed east to Lexington, KY. I have photos of my parents and me at the motel swimming pool. The next day we went to Athens where my parents had lived just after the war. My Dad taught at Ohio University and my older brother was born there. We stayed with friends of the family, a Presbyterian minister and his wife. Their house was on Peach Ridge and their backyard tumbled downhill in an array of fruit and gardens burgeoning with vegetables and flowers. Our hostess made apple pie and served it with sharp cheddar cheese; at 12 years old I was wary, but smitten on tasting it. The taste of warm apple pie with a sliver of sharp cheddar will always be accompanied by the olfactory memory of concord grapes. Just outside the back door of the house was a pergola laden with concord grapes. Their hypnotic smell wafted into the kitchen and dining room. That smell had been there all day as the sun warmed the grapes, but by dessert time I could not ignore it. It imprinted itself on my memory like a brand on a calf. Apparently it made a definite and long lasting impression.

This evening I bought concord grapes at J&L Market on Euclid by the train/rapid tracks. It is a fall tradition. Just like buying Christmas trees there. 30 years in Ohio. Almost 30 years of trees and almost 30 years of grapes at J&L. 

But unlike other years, tonight I thought of grapes growing on the hillside of the escarpment, a fragrant bounty perfuming the forgotten triangle is on this crisp fall evening... INTOXICATING!

 

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grapes of wrath

Brownfields to food? It can happen.

Feeling like a bit-o-divine retribution for the sins of our fathers? How much more divine a retribution could there be than making lemonade with lemons or marvelous wine from some moribund land in the city?

Steinbeck's novel as a title for this post is not without significance. It seems timely, too. 

From the wikipedia entry on the novel:

"At the time of publication, Steinbeck's novel "was a phenomenon on the scale of a national event. It was publicly banned and burned by citizens..." (Don't we have a book burner on a ticket currently?)

 Then there's the title of the book and its provenance:

 "As might be expected, the image invoked by the title serves as a crucial symbol in the development of both the plot and the novel's greater thematic concerns: From the terrible winepress of Dust Bowl oppression will come terrible wrath but also the deliverance of workers through their cooperation."

Now, add trails for MTBs, horses, and polo

1,000s of arces of food will be grown around here - they will have many many miles of dirt trails - the trails may be designed with MTB uses in mind, if MTB enthusiasts become involved in urban farm planning. Otherwise, MTBs will see no MTB signs on all the farms, because the farms aren't pre-designed for MTB use at the planning stage. 

I'll make sure MTB enthusists are invited into any of my farm planning

I wouldn't mind seeing farm access for horses, as well, as I love to ride.

How about we lay out a polo field in Forest Hills Park or among some of the urban farmland, and develop a Cleveland Farmers polo teams? The horses may plow the fields and move produce when they aren't playing polo.

Disrupt IT

Mansfield Frazier is grapes, too

Chateau Hough

I still think teaching viticulture to young folks is a good idea.

At the urban farmer's meet-up at AJ Rocco's the other night, Farmer Dan told me that the reason that more new farmers are trained in prisons is because they have time... time to watch things grow... Interesting perspective, Farmer Dan.