Friends of the Farm, Tara Gaston
Our new series introducing you to the amazing diversity of people who come to our farm for all kinds of reasons. Each month will feature a new friend, volunteer, supporter, gardener, or enthusiast and their connection to our farm. This month, meet Tara Gaston, Pitney Meadows monthly supporter, volunteer, and Pick Your Own CSA member.
1. What is your connection to Pitney Meadows Community Farm?
I am a monthly supporter, a member of the CSA program, and a volunteer!
2. What moves you to support the success of this community asset?
I have a mix of selfish and altruistic reasons for wanting to support Pitney Meadows! Selecting and picking my own food with my children is meditative to me and a teaching opportunity for my children, but I did not quite get my grandfather’s green thumb. Also, my work is all very intellectual and detached from the earth - volunteering and participating in the CSA allows me to ground myself and (at the risk of being a cliché) reminds me what’s really important. The idea that I can support a CSA but also be in the field myself is delightful. It’s also very important to support knowledge about where our food comes from, the importance of agriculture in our area, and how our actions impact our environment. I am happy that my monthly donation goes to support the programs of Pitney Meadows and building our community and our community’s knowledge.
3. What does this farm mean to you and your family?
I grew up with a grandfather who had a small farm, in an area where almost everyone did in Alabama. Some of my earliest memories are on his farm, or picking fruit from the neighbors’. I learned where food came from, and that it wasn’t as easy as tossing a seed in the dirt and waiting. I learned the best way to spit a watermelon seed for distance, the fastest way to snap beans so that I could stop snapping beans as soon as possible, and the difference between pickles and jalapenos (which I learned the hard way). The farm for me means my grandmother’s fried okra, using farm-grown okra, lots of love, and a secret technique that no one else has ever been able to duplicate. For me the farm also means taking care of your community - providing food to those who needed it, and pitching in when someone had a bad crop. It means no questions asked; sharing recipes, and equipment, and the front porch at the end of the day. It means community.
4. What would you tell someone in the Saratoga region who has not yet visited the farm?
Go! It is a great place to learn more, and to simply sit and enjoy the area. It is a place of community, where we can all come together without the baggage of the rest of our lives, whether we like digging in the earth, having a drink while listening to music, or watching children play.
5. What's one awesome idea you'd like to see come to fruition at the farm?
I am truly inspired by the focus on food justice in our community and look forward to seeing where it goes. Pitney Meadow's desire to make sure that *everyone* in our community has access to fresh and healthy food is an idea that should spread - from our homeless shelters to schools to anywhere else people gather. I also think that as government looks to mitigate the impact of climate chaos, Pitney Meadows is in the perfect place - both geographically and temporally - to become a resource for innovation and teaching in urban farming.
Tara is an attorney, local elected official, and parent to four perpetual motion machines. She spends most of her time advocating for others, and knits and trains for triathlons (both very slowly) in her spare time. Summer tomato sandwiches, fried okra, roasted brussels, and fresh strawberries are the height of the human experience with food.