Edible Nature

June 29, 2012

Last week, I collected the first garbanzo bean out of the Erika J. Glazer Family Home Garden. After showing the seed to some of my colleagues, who exclaimed, "Wow, that’s a garbanzo bean," I realized what a profound thing I was holding in my hand. From this tiny package an entire plant can spring, the potential for new life was right there in my hand.  

Garbanzo bean close-up To tell you more about this tiny seed I'll pass you over to Vanessa Vobis, one of our Gallery Interpreters that works in the garden.  

Vanessa stopped working for a quick photo opp.   "When I look at garbanzo beans, Cicer arietinum, I think of humus, Indian dishes, and the story of Jack and the beanstalk. Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are legumes with a rich and nuanced history across many cultures. Over 7,500 year-old remains have been found in the Middle East; making garbanzo beans one of the oldest cultivated vegetables! Presently, India grows the most chickpeas in the world. These climbing vines grow to about 10-20 inches tall and the beans are a good source of zinc, protein, and fiber. If we think rhyzomatically, like the way fungi create vast webs across forest floors, we realize we are part of that food web. A larvae chews on the leaves of a garbanzo plant, that plant feeds on the nutrients and minerals in the soil, and those nutrients are made accessible by the fungi, earthworms, and micro-organisms breaking down materials. The Home Garden is not just an edible landscape, it is also a functioning habitat that provides homes and food for countless other creatures. While the plants in the Home Garden are closely linked to what we eat, we have already begun to notice insects, birds, and even squirrels that have come to feast and forge relationships with our plants. We are especially welcoming of the bees because they help pollinate our flowers, and word on the street is that bees are responsible for pollinating every third bite of the food that we eat!"   

Companion plantings to encourage pollinators and other beneficial bugs in the garden. Looking at this tiny bean and all the other ripening food in the Home Garden, there are many connections to be made. We can be awed by a seed's potential to spring forth new life, amazed at the intricate relationships plants and animals can have right in our own backyards, and be thankful for the sustenance a plant will give us at our next meal. 

(Posted by: Lila Higgins)

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