Mystery tomatoes

For some time now our family has been ordering our groceries online from a local company called “Les Jardins Urbains” (Urban Gardens). At first, the idea was simply to streamline our lives and to save our Saturdays that were getting eaten up by thankless tasks like shopping. We’ve been procuring food like this for well over a year now, and pray that Reza, our friend and proprietor of “Les Jardins Urbains,” will never go out of business, because we could never go back.

Reza’s food is organic and largely local. Our duck, for example, comes from Lac Brome, our carrots from the Saguenay, and our tomatoes from his greenhouses.

I’ve never been a much of a food snob or a big believer in the organic movement (for one thing, I’m suspicious of the ecological argument for organic strawberries that have travelled to Quebec from California), but I have to admit that our new way of accessing food has changed our relationship to it. We now eat more seasonally than ever before — each spring we await the news that the special sweet and spicy lettuce blends are available and that garlic shoots can  be ordered — and food that is grown close by really does taste better.

But tonight, together with my weekly food delivery, came a surprise. I was gardening when Reza announced that he had a gift for me.

A few minutes later he returned from his van bearing four tiny tomato seedlings. He explained that after reading my post about how gardens reflect our lives, he’d been inspired to bring me some plants. There’s a hanging one for our son, one each for my husband and me, and one that I’m symbolically setting aside for our cat Yashka, since we don’t want any orphans or jealousy.

The tomatoes, he said, are a mystery. We don’t know what colour or shape each will bear, but they won’t be conventional.

So what started for me as a purely practical matter — this habit of ordering food every week — has brought unanticipated richness. Friendship, better health, a reader I didn’t even realize I had, and a heartwarming acknowledgment of my work in the form of four mystery tomato plants.

If you live in the Montreal area, check out “Les Jardins Urbains” here.

[Photo: Ken Whytock]

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2 Replies to “Mystery tomatoes”

  1. What a beautiful story, Julijia. It is so neat how eating in a sustainable way not only nourishes the earth, our bodies but also our community. One has to wonder how we wound up moving away from a farming method that connected us in so many ways. It is wonderful that more and more of us are trying to find those connections again.

    And I completely agree with you about the questionable value of purchasing strawberries from California simply because they have the label “organic”.

  2. Vreni,
    thanks so much for your comment. There seems to be a mounting desire to reconnect to land, livestock and crops in everyday ways. I’m so grateful to Les Jardins Urbains for connecting us to local producers. I’m not sure I would have believed how big a difference proximity of food sources makes, had we not experienced it first-hand.

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