Thursday, October 1, 2009

beans, beans, beans

Last Friday, I picked and gave away four bags of beans, which was fun, as well as a few cucumbers. This week, I've been crazy busy and haven't had a chance visit very often. I know the beans need picking and there are a few cukes almost ready. The weather's gotten cold enough now that I don't think we'll see any more squash.

I had my first negative comment about the garden last week, when I was picking beans. An older Russian woman came up to me and said (in a heavy accent), "I hope you're not going to eat those."

me: "Well, maybe. Or else I'll give them away."

The woman went on to say that it wasn't healthy for me to eat these vegetables because it's close to the street and that heavy metals from the cars get in the veggies. I tried to reassure her that we'd had the soil tested and that the plants are safe. She continued to press: "What sort of degree do you have?" I told her that I was trained as an engineer, but that I have a degree in humanities.

"Vat kind of degree?" she demanded. "Bachelors? Masters?"

"Just a bachelor's degree, from MIT."

"I have two masters degrees," she claimed. "In engineering."

I told her that I disagreed with her assertions. She said she liked the garden, that it was beautiful, but that she didn't want me eating the food. I told her to show me some studies proving that the plants were taking up harmful amounts of heavy metals, and I'd believe her. She walked away, muttering about how crazy I am.

So, does she have a point? I don't think so. The soil tested clean. The air is the same air she's breathing in her apartment. The street sees traffic, but not huge congestion, and the garden isn't right up against the street--there's a sidewalk and a whole parking lane between the plants and traffic. She's probably more in danger from directly breathing the car exhaust than from eating plants from the 200 Foot Garden. And even if it was possible for them to take in metals from the exhaust, no one eating from the garden consumes more than a handful of produce from it. Not enough to even fill your belly, let alone kill you.

Oh, well. You can't please everyone. Interesting.

On the same day, however, another old Russian lady was going on about the garden as I showed her the plants and the veggies. "I was thinking about moving away," she told me, waving at our project, "but now I'm going to stay."

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