For three weeks now, the Autumnalis cherry has been blooming, in spite of freezing temperatures and dustings of snow. With only a few degrees of encouragement, the delicate rose and white helibores that lay prostrate just days ago, are today happily standing up again. The ‘Christmas Cheer’ rhododendron in our hedgerow has been in full blossum for nearly a month. My mind and body are confused by these mixed messages from nature all around me.
Our packets of seed, jerusalem artichokes, and seed potatoes have all arrived. In his small greenhouse, my husband has started spinach, edible peas and sweet peas to plant out after the cold weather is finished. We are fortunate that we live near the water where the climate is temperate, so that even last week I was able to harvest a large basket full of winter spinach, arugula, cilantro; green wave, purple, yellow streaks, and mizuna mustards; three types of kale, and swiss chard. When we eat them, my husband and I feel like we are eating direct bites of concentrated sunshine at a time we really need it most!
In the meantime, these short days of winter have been wonderfully spent weaving with Laura Llewellyn, a talented farmer/weaver friend, who soon will begin working at Red Dog Farm in Chimmicum, Washington.
I have been making and using ribbed baskets in our gardens for over twenty-five years. This type of basket construction was taught to me by dear friend, Gwen Baughman, twenty-six years ago, and that basket is still in use today.
This winter, Laura and I have made a batch these of Harvest Baskets. We will be selling them to folks who are supporting local farmers by purchasing shares of produce through CSA memberships – Community Sustained Agriculture. We are grateful there is a culture of people who understand, embrace, and support the growing and eating of poison-free local foods, and the craftsmanship and knowledge of local artisans.
These baskets are made for the work of carrying produce, but their functions are limitless, from decoration, to storage, to hauling. Every basket is unique in its shape because of the character of the materials used.
We’ve made the Harvest Baskets in two models. The “Basic” is made of mostly local materials with the addition of purchased rattan that is handpainted with a food-safe finish.
The “Heirloom” is made entirely of local hand gathered and prepared materials, including Western red cedar inner bark that was gathered in a respectful and traditional manner from trees that were to be cut down.