Cherries are in its peak season in Beijing and our farmer friend Therese Zhang needed help! Well, we Slow Food Beijing crew came to the rescue and came back home with red-stained fingers, lips – and of course, a bagful of freshest organic cherries and a big smile ☺
Slow Food Beijing organized its first group outing last Sunday morning to God’s Grace Garden (天福园)
, Beijing’s first biodynamic farm, to help our farmer friend Therese Zhang pick cherries. It drizzled and the weather was a bit gloomy but that didn’t stop us from having fun picking cherries and chasing after goats like little kids.
Having lived in big cities around the world all my life, I wondered, how often do we get to pick fresh fruits off of trees? Seeing cherries on a tree for the first time, it was so exciting for all of us – city dwellers!
Adults and children alike, we ran around the cherry orchard with a wooden basket in one hand and a wooden ladder on the other, climbed up the trees and competed with the wild birds to pick out the ripest cherries.
‘One for me, one for the basket…two for me, one for the basket….’
Every time I spotted a triplet cherries, my new foodie friends Alice, Jenn and I giggled because it reminded us of the three lined up triplet cherries on a slot machine, which mean jackpot in lot of the casinos. I thought it was a funny coincidence because Cherries = $$$ at least in Beijing where a small package (500g) of imported, perfectly manicured red cherries sell for as high as $65 USD!!
During the farm tour that followed, I learned something new from Therese and my new foodie partner in crime, Alicia Noel. This is how biodynamic farm
works – self-sufficient farm in which the fertilizer (manure + compost) used for the crops are from the cows that feed on the crops on the farm. Additionally, there is a beautiful flower garden next to the common area filled with perfumed flowers that not only provide nectars for the hardworking honeybees but also attract the harmful insects away from the main orchard. What a brilliant system!
At the end of the tour, I noticed a cross-shaped lightening rod on top of the water tank tower and asked Theresa,
“Are you a Christian? How did you decide to become a farmer?”
What she told me that day will stay with me for a long time. She told me,
“Yes, I’m Catholic. For me, food is God’s greatest grace to us, everything is living and breathing just like us, and so I made it my lifetime mission to grow and share freshest food with people of Beijing. And that is how I came to name my farm – God’s Grace Garden.”
And I replied, “Amen
to that!” : )
The cherries we picked that afternoon came in all sizes and colors (many already eaten by wild birds). Sure they were not as ‘perfectly’ uniformed and manicured as fat ruby cherries sold at supermarkets but these ‘imperfect’ cherries made me smile because it meant everything at the farm was as natural as God intended everything to be. ☺
Freshest milk I’ve ever tasted – freshly squeezed and pasteurized that morning, fresh eggs, farm collected honey…
Here is what I made with a bag of fresh cherries I brought back!
Cherry Cinnamon syrup aka Love Potion! (to be drizzled on pancakes, ice cream, sparking wine cocktail!) My recipe for Cherry Cinnamon syrup
Join us on our next adventures and Slow Food Beijing as we try to bring good, clean and fair food and the cooking/sharing culture back to China or plan your own local farm adventure with your friends and family! more info on my previous post – ‘Where to buy organic food in Beijing”
Ahh… how wonderful it was to get away from the big city life and spend the whole day at the farm. I have a feeling I’m going to have a sweet dream tonight where I win the cherry jackpot! and the prize? a giant pot full of fresh cherries and veggies falling down from the sky! ☺
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