Monday, September 28, 2020 | Written by Kaela
Fresh produce is abundant in France, but in order to get the best produce, you have to pick it yourself. Luckily, the Leonardo Program at Georgia Tech-Lorraine gave us an opportunity to do just that in Metz. After the end of classes one afternoon, a group of us loaded onto the provided bus to head to the local farm in Peltre. On my arrival, I was overwhelmed on arrival by how many areas of the grounds I had to explore in the one and a half hour period we were visiting for.
I grabbed one of the provided bags and, along with many others, headed straight towards the strawberries. We were told they were the last of the season and soon to go, so of course I had to get some. The rainstorm in the distance made the trip a bit ominous. I thought, “Will it head towards us and cut our short trip even shorter?” and hoped it would move further into the distance.
We started our strawberry expedition at the front rows of bushes, a rookie move. After perusing the picked over bushes near the front we discovered as we moved further in and further away, the strawberries got larger and more plentiful. I guess few are willing to walk through the enormous strawberry patch to the back. The strawberry bushes sat in troughs raised above ground, which put them at eye level and made for easy picking. Once we had stuffed our bags with ruby red strawberries, we headed to the nearby apple orchard, grabbing some beautiful tomatoes on our way.
Pink lady, fuji, gala, honey crisp, granny smith, red delicious, golden delicious: To me, an apple is an apple. This may be a controversial statement, but I honestly don’t eat them enough to tell the difference. I find the variety of apples to be overwhelming enough when there are between three to five to choose from at the grocery store; to say I felt in awe when walking towards what seemed like an acre of apple trees is an understatement. There were endless rows with an uncountable number of apple varieties, most of which I had never heard of. My solution: pick a random row of trees and begin picking. The twisted trees towered above me and below my feet lay fallen fruit in various stages of rot. I was surprised and initially felt disappointed by how many apples laid on ground: seemingly all gone to waste. Luckily, they can be turned to compost and the nutrients will return to the ground to further the growth of more apples, a nice reminder of the beauty of the circle of life.
After leaving the apples we walked past a multitude of in-ground veggies which naturally I turned into a fun guessing game. What was it we were passing now? Would it be a carrot? A radish? A beet?
As we continued on we happened upon a large variety of leafy greens. I was excited at the prospects of the dishes I could create with them, but unfortunately, I was leaving for Nice the coming weekend so I only picked a small bunch. My group decided we would eventually make a trip back and make dinner with the freshly picked food. We made our way towards hoop houses filled with peppers, eggplants, and more but we ran out of time quickly. As we walked towards the exit, we ended our trip by making friends with a couple of goats.
This short trip was a good way to take a break from the business of school work and travel. I was grateful for the quiet and peacefulness of it as getting out in nature is always a great way to destress. I think the weather knew how much we needed the break, because the once ominous rain clouds at the beginning of our trip became a light drizzle as we drove away.