Anyone who has grown lettuce knows that when it comes to harvesting, there's always plenty to share. Lettuce is one of those easy-to-grow veggies that not only is almost foolproof, but extremely prolific. That also makes lettuce the perfect first harvest for Newtown's Victory Garden, a community garden that supports the town's food pantries.
after learning about the Judea Garden, a community garden in Washington, CT, which assists families in Torrington. After meeting with Judea's organizer in February 2011, Pessin put the wheels in motion to start a garden that would benefit Newtown's social services food bank and Sandy Hook's FAITH Food Pantry.
With the help of the Parks and Recreation Department and volunteers, the Victory Garden is now a working community garden on the . Pessin worked with Park and Rec to build the garden, but the rows are tended by a variety of volunteers, ranging from families to civic groups to aspiring Master Gardeners.
Rows were assigned on a first-come, first-served basis and are all spoken for this season. Pessin encouraged participants to name their rows and have some fun. Taking his advice to heart, group names include The Garden Hose, The Hot Peppers and Dirt Rich, with Team 911 decorating its row with toy emergency vehicles.
"Every row has a story," said Pessin. "The garden has diversity from every angle - there's something for everyone."
It's been a wet and rainy spring, but that hasn't hurt the greens. As in the Victory Garden, our home garden has provided a variety of lettuces, arugula and spinach.
One of the best things about greens is that you don't need to cook them to throw together a meal. But although a salad tossed with a variety of veggies is healthy, lettuce isn't known for it's bold flavor. For those looking for a bit more bite to their greens, meet arugula.
This skinny green has long been a staple in our family garden. The tender crisp leaves not only look beautiful on the plate, but the peppery flavor infuses a salad with an unexpected heat.
Top the leaves with leftover sliced steak or chicken, or create a summery salad with tuna and grapes. I mixed a can of tuna with two tablespoons of olive oil mayonnaise, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper, then added some sliced grapes. You could also use blueberries or diced apples. The sweetness of the fruit contrasts deliciously with the tangy arugula and salty tuna.
Another in-season crop is sugar snap peas. The appeal of these sweetly succulent pods is again the ease of growing, but also the low-maintenance prep. Sugar snaps can be eaten right out of the garden, served with dips or sauteed gently as a side dish.
If you have time to make a marinade from scratch, try this recipe for stir-fried chicken and sugar snap peas. But honestly, it's summer. The kids are home. So I grabbed a bottle of teriyaki marinade (Soy Vay is our favorite), added two teaspoons of cornstarch to thicken it, mixed in some sliced raw chicken breast and followed the recipe from there. Delicious.
Here are some other ideas for those garden greens: