This process began in mid-summer. We planted for a fall harvest. The garden was made of summer squash, string beans, tomato, cucumber, carrots, onion, acorn squash and fennel. A garden without fennel would be sacrilegious to an Italian family. Fennel is a vegetable that looks like celery and taste like licorice. You either love it or you hate it. In our household it was sliced in salads, braised in olive oil or most importantly, delicately used to season my grandfather’s Italian sausage recipe.
My Italian grandparents were with us during the “hi-ho, hi-ho” of gardening. I remember Gramma Bea teaching me to get the root of the weed out of the soil, so it wouldn’t grow back. I remember Papa Albert telling me “dig a little deeper, work a little harder”, again, not what I had in mind as a teenager.
When the day came for us to harvest the fruits of our labor, it was fantastic! I couldn’t believe the amount of produce we picked from our garden…wheelbarrows full. I will never forget my grandmother’s radiant smiles as she prepared our farm vegetables for the dinner table. Those smiles were priceless. To this day, this memory abounds. For no matter what the task, it has been demonstrated in my lifetime, hard work, pays off.