I met a rock star recently and I was so excited I forgot to have him autograph my box of freshly picked peaches straight from his orchard. Mr. Brosi of Brosi’s SugarTree Farm in Winston was there, in person, right in front of me.
Last summer I was taking a trip up to Portland to visit friends and attend my son’s street fair (Hump Day Street Fair) that he puts on with his nonprofit organization. I was dead set on bringing fresh produce to each of the special friends and family that are there up north. Their fresh produce is what’s at the grocery store fresh. I was determined to pick whatever I could from Brosi’s to show them what real fresh produce was all about.
I picked beans, corn, peppers, especially the hot cherry bombs, peaches and apples. I’m sure there was something else, but they all got a nice shopping bag full of produce that couldn’t be any closer from the earth itself. The result: One said it was so good to bite into the apple that was dusted with earth as oppposed to the supermarket-waxed apple intercepted somewhere between the earth and the grocery produce aisle.
I know Douglas County faces serious challenges. But this time of year is almost like our zenith of pride. The produce stands in our precious Southern Oregon place are in full swing. There are a lot of people in our country who don’t get to experience the down-home goodness of our area this time of year. You bet I was Johnny-on-the-spot to get to Brosi’s as soon as I could. At first I was after kale. Brosi’s kale had this beautiful deep green to it. I know because I compared it to the kale I got from a local grocery store.
After kale goes out, in comes almost everything else fresh. I was in heaven when the peaches arrived. Oh, I couldn’t help but get cherries — not one but three times. I took a bunch up to my son a few weeks ago. As the days go on, I’m bombarded with fresh corn from Brosi’s field, including those profuse zucchini that gardeners try to find the 1,000 ways to use. Yep, Brosi’s has a few of those huge ones that got past the picker now are waiting to be made into famous zucchini bread.
When it came to the watermelon, I made the big mistake of having Mr. Brosi’s daughter put mine on the back seat floor. It took everything for me to get that 10-pound piece of fruit up from the floor and safely in my hands without dropping it to splat over all over the pavement. The best was yet to come.
When I was growing up here, like many kids, I worked at the bean yard to make money for school. I rode my bike, picked with my brothers, and got fired for not picking my row clean. I was devastated. The bean row boss put in red across my card “fired.” What I didn’t realize then came back to me this season. The smell of the dirt and the plant all together like a perfect perfume. Once I hit the u-pick field of Brosi’s that childhood memory emerged like a long lost photo. The “fired” part of the memory wasn’t so traumatic, either. So far I’ve u-picked blackberries and peaches. I can’t help it. I couldn’t stay away, even with one really bad knee that’s going to get replaced. Nope, nothing was going to get in the way of me feeling that fruit come off the branch and straight into my hands.
Best, I got to shake Mr. Brosi’s hand and let him know how special his farm is to me and to my friends who are too far away in many ways.
Lorelei O’Connor is a painter and poet who has a degree in finance from the University of Oregon and did graduate studies at Marylhurst University. She graduated from Roseburg High School in the mid-1970s and recently returned to the area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.