McZena Muse: Locally grown and truly appreciated

When you wake up, dimly some morning, and realize we are already in to September and fall, it makes you start.

That’s a hard admission for this Ohio farm girl.

Mostly I’ve gone through life borrowing the wisdom from my mom and dad. They weren’t the kind to sit and wring their hands. They just kept moving.

Dad has his traumas, as all farmers do. He once cut off a finger, and calmly returned to the house so mom could take him to the hospital in Loudonville.

And mom, a wise teacher and splendid grower of all things beautiful, calmly received life and her own kind of traumas. Because her last name was that wonderful German concoction, Swartzwalder, some unkind students would take that name and turn it into something easier to pronounce. Like swampstomper.

Not a word said in return, ever, by my mom.

I live in the farm house where I grew up, and for that, I am most grateful.

Mom had a green thumb. Some of her plantings of gorgeous peonies are still here, and I tend them with much diligence.

I don’t recall, growing up, ever hearing loud rantings. If something happened, you took it and learned from it.

So, looking outside now and seeing the marvelous things I planted much earlier this year, I feel calm and very fortunate.

As a born again grower, I like to start my tomato plants and squash from seed. And, I like to grow heirloom varieties.

You can go the hybrid route, if you wish, but that means you’ll have lots of some not-so-desirable tomatoes that will do nothing but produce and produce and produce.

But the question is, how does it taste.

I learned about several good varieties in my days as a business owner, and farmers’ market vendor, in Takoma Park, Maryland, a Washington, D.C. suburb.

Some very good friends of mine have a place named Twin Springs Fruit Farm, located in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania, near Gettysburg. They are the best growers ever.

I used to sell my good business products to them at private farmers’ markets they ran all over the Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia.

Aubrey E. King III — Bucky to us — used to show up at markets with the most incredible displays. I learned from him about sungold tomatoes.

These guys have a huge set up with green houses, where in the winter, they would produce soil-grown tomatoes.

They also grew stone fruit, of course. I used to buy apples and peaches and pears for my pies at Takoma Kitchens, my business, from them.

These great growers weren’t my only farmer friends. Others taught me about fantastic Italian flat green beans. There are several varieties of those. I like Roma beans. These you can eat raw, they are so tender.

The point of all this, dear friends, is that I love to also give tips to people about the best things to eat.

I no longer sell at farmers’ markets here, but I carry with me that little gene, that urge that won’t go away.

If I want to feel good about things, I just go outside, pull a few weeds, and harvest my incredibly good crops.

On this day, when August turns into September, I have the things that make me know all my grubbing in the dirt was worth it.

There is a thought, where people say the best things always come last.

Feasting on sungold tomatoes makes me resolute in a vow to continue my way of growing.

Why go to a store where someone can tell you something is locally grown?

One of the best things you can do is to take care of yourself.

So, pass it on. Invest in sungold tomatoes and flat Italian green beans.

Louise Swartzwalder Bellville Star Swartzwalder Bellville Star