Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Down on the Farm with the Dollivers

A couple of Dollivers decide to come along on a trip to the local you-pick farm, which I love to go to, to encourage local small farmers. The whole family works all the time, and in the summer it's the younger generation in charge of the fruit and veggie area, ready picked as well as pick it yourself.

This is the Stults farm, which has ceded development rights to the state in return for a sizable $$ compensation, and the agreement to farm it forever. So this area of the town is protected and beautiful forever, crops of all kinds, mainly fruits and vegetables.

So, it being a short car ride, I took the latest Dolliver and her sister, dressed in their best, with me. I explained it's a farm you don't have to dress up, but was met indignantly with what do you think we are? ruffs and scruffs? we are wearing our best outfits, complete with earrings, so neener.

Ooooookay. So we posed at the farm sign, one Dolliver falling down repeatedly and finally clinging on long enough for a picture, hair blowing in a brisk wind. Then we found that her sister had lost her earrings already, but they turned up in the car, then we posed and shopped.

The Stults family are such good businesspeople, and now grow all kinds of vegetables that appeal to the Indian population of the township, who love to pick fresh and many of whom are strict vegetarians, so they're excellent customers. Items like bitter melons and other things I don't know how you cook them, as well as all the other more familiar crops.

Dollivers checking the cantaloupes

And were all very amused by a nice lady with two little girls who said she'd come to pick raspberries, then proceeded to ask the kid behind the counter how to recognize them, where were they, how do they grow? the kid, straightfaced pointed to the field behind her and said, see all those rows of bushes? all full of raspberries. You just pick them. Ahhh.

But I admired the mom for being willing to look silly in the course of giving her little girls a summer adventure of picking stuff on a farm. Many years ago, I took in a summer renter, a very young girl originally from Trinidad, then from New York city, who was a brilliant engineer and was doing an internship at a local company.

I had been horrified by their personnel department who had been sending her, a 17 year old girl, alone, to terrible neighborhoods in Trenton, really dangerous places, and who called me (I worked at the YW then) to ask if we had a residence in Princeton.

I realized that what was driving them was the nasty assumption that a young black student would not easily find a place to live. So I was so mad I said I've got a spare bedroom, I live right down the road from you, walking distance to work for her, refer her to me. And her family to make sure they know she's safe.

And she came to us for the summer. In the first day she was there, I was called by every one of her five brothers, checking me out! and her father actually came to visit, charming man, who visibly relaxed when he met me and I assured him his daughter was safe and we loved her, and my son, then about 13, would be her friend too! so it went well. She was astounded that I had no trouble with his Trinidadian accent, since I knew tons of people in England from the islands.

But I was reminded of her when I heard the raspberry lady, because at that time I had a big vegetable and fruit garden, and one evening I asked her would she please nip out and pick a bunch of cucumber and tomatoes for salad. Forgetting these are temperate zone vegetables.

She wandered about outside for a while with the bowl I'd given her, until I finally went out and she said, um, which are cucumbers? and do tomatoes grow underground? should I dig? so I showed her and she was amazed at finding them on the vine. It became a huge house joke that summer, she being a terrific kid with a great sense of humor.

And, back on the farm, scream, shock, horror, as I was ready to leave I realized I'd left the Dolliver girls posed at the pepper display.

Unharmed, indignant at what a rotten mother I am, leaving the kids behind, we proceeded to the library.

Where the Dollivers relaxed with an issue of O to check on what ways they should improve their lives, such as finding a new home where their mother won't go off and leave them...and noticing that she's about to borrow a book about making dolls from old socks, ptui.

So home with lovely Jersey peaches and tomatoes and green beans.


  1. I love the adventures the Dollivers go on!

  2. You are such a card!! The peaches sound delicious and the cantaloupes are impressive. Your house must be becoming a little over-crowded now with the way the Dollivers are multiplying. Are you sure you don't have a stray boy in there somewhere?


  3. Along with Minimiss, I was wondering about the multiplying Dollivers. Great fun.

  4. Ahh. This time you're off on an adventure close to my own world. I just got the first ripe pawpaws, picked a bunch of okra and tomatoes, harvested 80 lbs of my first batch of potatoes.

    I hope to grow Indian vegetables like bitter melon for Vimala's new restaurant next year. I'll be eating supper there tonight with my parents for my birthday, a bit late.

    Hurray for Stults and the conservation easement. Hurray for you and the girl from Trinidad and buying local produce.


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