Last spring, Oriental medicine practitioner Dr. Paddy Tawada had a butternut-squash moment. This very much resembled a lightbulb moment, except the vision that lit up her imagination involved vegetables. Like many of us, Dr. Tawada—also known to her patients as Dr. Pea—had acquired more seedlings than needed for her garden. She thought if she planted the extra zucchini and butternut squash near the driveway, passersby could share in the abundance and help themselves to the extras.
Easy accessibility would be the key, and she wondered if other growers might be inspired to take a trusting leap, follow her lead and invite neighbors—and even perfect strangers—to stop, drop and gather. Since then, she’s been toiling away, not only growing food, but nurturing an organized food-sharing system now lovingly called Accessible Vegetables.
To get the project moving, Dr. Pea started a blog announcing her vision to all comers. She spent the better part of the last year gathering feedback and contemplating the best ways to implement a plan for community building and sharing, as well as negotiating challenges like the risk of unwanted disruptions and privacy issues.
Of course, participants in the program are asked to play by the rules—the first being: when in doubt, do no harm. In addition, growers are asked to clearly mark the area of their yard or garden for shared harvest while pickers are asked to gather only during daylight hours, to choose only those vegetables that are ripe and to limit their pickings to just enough for one meal.
It’s an idea that is at once simple, yet profound—dependant on some of the best human qualities like trust, honesty and respect. Dr. Pea continues to have great hope for success and has recently grown the blog into a website and ordered custom signs for growers to place in their yards.
“I’d love to see this become a global movement,” says Dr. Pea. “For it to work, it needs to be something that spreads.”
For more information visit accessiblevegetables.com.