What’s the next best thing to going into your backyard and harvesting veggies from the earth and using them a short while later in your dinner? Driving down the road (with incredible views along the way) and having the eight-year-old daughter of the local farmer do it for you!! (Not that I’m promoting child labor; our little farmer was very pleased to be helping us!) She’d asked us how much, and we’d reply, “cincuenta” (fifty cents worth), and she’d kneel into the dirt and pull up bunches of carrots. And for fifty cents we’d have a giant bundle of collard greens, more than a dozen carrots, a large fistful of green onions, an enormous head of lettuce and another of broccoli. Tomatoes – seven large heirloom variety for a dollar. For $3.50 we left with three bags laden with veggies still bearing the dirt of the land from which they were taken.
Our farm girl was definitely also developing the most necessary skills a farmer needs: marketing. Every time she finished harvesting our fifty-cents worth of one item, she’d rattle off the other products available: cilantro, Romaine lettuce, spinach, parsley, flowers….”
And they flowers they had were certainly impressive, covering the whole terraced hillside that comprised their farm. In between the shocks of yellows and red, and bundles of orange, purple, and blue, were the quiet vegetables – the carrots with their curly tops and onions with their straight green stalks. Small black irrigation tubes crisscrossed the hillside and the paths that wove between the terraces was a lush grass that called for you to sink your toes in to. I might sound like I’m describing a kind of paradise, and indeed Los Planes, up in the high elevations of the Chalatenango region of El Salvador, can seem like a world apart from the rest of the country. But with a growing market for organic produce, this region might get a boost. In San Salvador, organic produce from this region can sometimes be found at the major grocery stores, and always at the organic growers co-op – CLUSA, near Hospital Diagnostico. If you’re in the area, check it out! I get almost all of my produce there!! It’s cheap, delicious, and the people are wonderful.