August 31, 2011 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Fresh limes on the tree. Photo: lewandowski.net
I grew up, the daughter of a gardener, with a 30 x 40 foot garden behind our house. I remember 25 pound watermelons, sweet cantaloupe, fresh beets, and corn taller than I was. You name it, my Mom grew it. There was a summer garden and a winter garden. I grew up knowing where my food came from.
I got older and moved away to college. There was no time or space for a garden. Then as a young mother our house had big shade trees and no place for a garden. A few years ago I realized that I wanted to get back to fresh food that tastes like it did when I was a kid. I haven’t eaten beets from the store in years because they don’t taste like “real” beets to me. Store bought peaches? No thanks. They don’t compare to the ones plucked from my friend’s tree in my childhood.
I thought, “What can I do to get back to fresh food?” Heaven forbid, my kids think food just comes from the grocery store. I don’t have space for a big garden so I started small. I’ve always found room to grow rosemary because I hate paying the high prices in the grocery store for herbs and I love it on barbequed lamb, steaks or stuffed in a roast chicken. Next came a lime tree. I love limes in marinades, not to mention margaritas. The limes in the store were 50 cents each and always tasted old to me. I had to put my lime tree in a pot because there was no place for a tree. To my delight the second or third year my tree produced more limes than I knew what to do with! I squeezed lime juice into ice trays to save for winter and then, determined to share my good fortune with my friends I bagged up about 10 bags with about 7 limes in each bag and put them on my porch and let my friends know they could come by and pick up a bag. All the bags were gone in 2 days. Wow, I thought, “I wonder if my friend with a lemon tree would have traded with me?” I would have loved some fresh lemons.
It occurred to me that every gardener, even small space gardeners like me, face the same challenge, an over abundance of some produce during the gardening season and an accompanying lack of other items. I wondered if someone nearby might have peaches or garden grown beets and have more than they knew what to do with?
Once I realized I needed to connect with other gardeners near me, I had the bug! I knew I had to create an online platform where gardeners could connect with other gardeners living near them to trade produce. With no website creating experience I dove in. I wanted gardeners to be able to find each other by zip code. The site had to be fun…. photos with the produce listings, a blog for all members. I wanted to reward gardeners listing produce grown organically with a bright yellow happy face next to their listing. And I wanted members to have a “wish list” where they could list the types of produce they would most like to have and receive a notification when another member nearby listed that on the website. Gardeners had to be able to trade on a point system, so that trading didn’t have to be straight across and so that a gardener could harvest and share tomatoes with another member in August, and use those points to pick up limes, from a member in October.
Eight months later, after much frustration, trial and error, and tears www.lemonsforlimes.com was born. It allows gardeners to do everything I dreamed it would.
My dream now is that the idea will spread and gardeners across the nation will use the website to connect with friends in their area and they will in turn bring in their friends. As that happens more and more fresh and organic food will be available within communities, the impact on the environment from food being transported so far from its source will decrease, and people will be inspired to plant more edible gardening.
On this journey I have been motivated to make room for more edible gardening so that I have more fresh food for my family and more to trade. I have a little lemon tree and I am hoping it will be as bountiful as my lime tree. I have also found a spot for two varieties of tomatoes, eggplant, jalapenos, cherry peppers, tarragon, an artichoke, coriander and basil all in just 29 by 58 inches! A few days ago I picked up Chard from someone a few streets over. My kids no longer think that food comes just from the grocery store, but from our yard, and the neighbors!
For more info & to view a video about online garden produce trading visit www.lemonsforlimes.com
Urban Gardens’s Note: The site charges members $5.95 per year to participate in the program. $1 out of every $ 5.95 yearly membership goes to bringing clean water to communities desperately in need of this resource. When a community gains access to clean water, its child mortality rate drops by half. For more information see http://www.samaritanspurse.org/water/
As Barudoni states: “As gardeners we know how important water is. We have enough water to drink, to garden, and enough water for our other needs too. At lemonsforlimes.com we don’t want to take this for granted and we want to share our blessings with the rest of the world.”
Lemon and Lime Vinaigrette
from Lemon Fresh
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 sachet fresh lime juice
1/2 sachet fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp walnuts, roasted & chopped
salt & pepper