Bursts of colour

JOYFUL GRATITUDE #193

I rarely buy cut flowers because their social and environmental impact makes me cringe. Usually I am content with my many potted plants or, if I really crave a burst of colour, a small bouquet of wild flowers picked on the fly.

However last week I treated myself to a large bouquet with a clean conscience at Lokale Bloemetjes, a self-pick farm next to the CSA where I get my veggies from in the West of Amsterdam. It was wonderful to stroll through row upon row of different flowers, grown without chemicals, taking the time to observe each one before deciding whether or not to add it to my bouquet, all the while knowing this supports a local business contributing to increase biodiversity.

Once back home, I sorted the flowers by similar colours and popped them inexpertly into glass tomato-sauce jars that I had lying around and they’ve been doing an amazing job at brightening up several corners of my flat on these first rainy autumn days.

Harvesting, planting, weeding

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending a day volunteering on the farm where I get my veggies from, in the West of Amsterdam.  It was a beautiful day with a fresh breeze which made it perfect to be working outside, though I was glad I had my sunscreen and hat to protect me as the sun was really beating down.  I enjoyed harvesting some greens, forking the soil, placing the tarp along the row, planting some pumpkin plants at a regular distance, watering them…

I dedicated the end of the afternoon to clearing weeds from a long bed.  It was the perfect exercise in mindfulness, I was focused on the task at hand, careful to extract as much of the deep roots as possible to avoid the weeds growing back, with the satisfaction of the pile of weeds in my crate getting bigger and the row looking more and more clear of weeds. We finished off the task together with one of the girls who works there, chatting as the sun made its way towards the west and became less harsh.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to experience working there and learning more about how the CSA is run.  The farmers were really kind, patiently explained and showed what needed to be done and answered my many questions. It was physical work and I came home very tired, but in a good way, with the joy of having spent hours with a calm mind and hands in the soil, admiring earthworms, healthy soil and thriving vegetables.  Spending time with passionate people and hearing about their experiences, is wonderful because it opens up a world of new ideas and possibilities.

Local fresh fruit

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In a country where there it can be tricky to buy organic fruit that hasn’t been flown half-way across the world, there is so much joy in picking our own fruit:)  We cycled to Fruittuin van West over the weekend and picked about 10kg of organic apples and pears, and a kilo of red-currants.

Did we overdo it? Maybe just a little…  I know we’ll have no trouble finishing them, slowly but surely, and I’m looking forward to our menu for the next weeks: oven-baked apples, red-currants with yoghurt, apple cake and more as inspiration comes to us

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Fruit picking in Fruittuin van West

IMG_3487JOYFUL GRATITUDE #37

Spent a lovely morning last weekend with Paolo picking raspberries and apples at Fruittuin van West, a beautiful organic farm in Amsterdam-West where you can go to pick your own fruit (local and seasonal – hooray!) .  There is a lovely dynamic atmosphere, and I like that they share very openly in their newsletters about their fight against pests and the methods they use, as it gives a realistic idea of the challenges of organic cultivation.

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Searching through the raspberry bushes to find the ripe fruit, holding them softly between my fingers and pulling lightly to pick them without crushing them, was the perfect exercise in mindfulness.

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We walked through row after row of apple trees laden with tempting fruit and picked to our heart’s content, coming home with 4 kilos of appels next to our kilo of raspberries.

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Don’t they look delicious?! (Needless to say that as I write this, the raspberries are already long gone, we enjoyed them ‘au naturel’, with yoghurt and in a delicious apple and raspberry cake!)

Amsterdam Bee Park

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While Paolo was living in the Far West (Geuzenveld) we discovered a few lovely places to escape from the rhythm of the city for a while. The Bee Park is one of them, a hidden haven of peace, where you can admire flowers and observe bees close up.

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It’s lovely to walk along the tiny paths between the hedges of the allotments, catching glimpses of the carefully tended gardens and small sheds.

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As you explore you may bump into a beekeeper, fully clothed in this protective gear like an astronaut, carefully taking care of his bees and hives. If you’re lucky there may even be some of this delicious local honey for sale to take home with you.

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Bijenpark Amsterdam is open from April to October, I recommend to check the times and dates before going.