The building where I work is in a small park on the edge of downtown and the raised bed has always been meticulously planted with annuals, courtesy of the Parks Department.
In this year of limited budgets and increasing green awareness, they were glad to prep the bed and turn it over to a group of my colleagues who would volunteer as vegetable gardeners.
In the spring we planted herbs, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cukes, green beans and more, and after some hand-wringing about whether it would look nice enough as our front yard, the beds exploded with mounds of green, spangled with red peppers and cherry tomatoes, attracting butterflies and birds.
Today we had a harvest party for our office, had fun mining sweet potatoes from under their green carpet, tasting peppery nasturtiums, and comparing lemon verbena to lemon balm.
The volunteer gardeners hit their kitchens and offered a tasting lunch of produce that included pasta with basil pesto, Thai beef salad with lemongrass, and sweet potato and roasted beet salad.
I made a lemon verbena pound cake, a rosemary honey tisane, and a chickpea, fennel, and swiss chard braise, which I thought no one would like, but there was only a spoonful left.
All summer, I’ve watching enjoyed people who stop to look at the garden, pinch a leaf, or pull a weed on their way to a meeting. No matter what they look like, vegetables seem to be way more engaging than a bed of impatiens. And even though the season is winding down, there’s plenty more chard to enjoy and we’re planning some cool weather crops as well.