Food brings people together, plain and simple. Our SEEDS program took a field trip to Windy Corner Market outside Lexington a few weeks ago, where I was reminded of the beauty of this ancient truth.
The SEEDS participants have spent the summer growing into young gardeners, learning how to care for gardens, identify plants, and more. Ouita Michel, owner of Windy Corner Market (and owner of Wallace Station Deli & Bakery, and Holiday Hill Inn), hosted our SEEDS kids personally, fielding their questions and coordinating the many, many orders with impressive patience and skill. She is a greatly valued friend of Seedleaf.
While we ordered and waited for our food, the SEEDS kids worked their way through a farm-to-plate scavenger hunt created by Seedleaf friend Bethany Pratt. The scavenger hunt consisted of a list of foods our SEEDS participants have been growing in their own gardens, and the goal was to identify as many fruits, vegetables, and herbs as possible in the Windy Corner menu. Soon, however, the food came—and between bites, everyone was jotting down what they could identify in their own dishes.
After everyone had eaten, Ouita rounded up the youngsters and gave them a tour of Windy Corner’s raised beds, quizzing and instructing them on the herbs and veggies growing there. She had even planted some mystery trees that we finally identified as fig trees!
Ouita and folks like her are guiding lights for the local food community. She helped us “connect the dots” by doing two things—first, by showing our SEEDS group that local food can power a successful restaurant (or three, in her case). Second: her menu allowed our young gardeners to see the foods they are growing listed in the dishes she serves, and she even used the raised beds to show them what some of the foods and herbs look like as living plants.
At the end of it all, I was reminded: promoting local food is not just about connecting garden-to-plate, or farm-to-table, or consumer to product; it is about connecting human to human. That’s the work we can do when folks like Ouita Michel and Seedleaf get together in the interest of offering our young people a healthier food future. Let’s keep it up, hey?
The SEEDS folks among Windy Corner’s raised beds!