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AMI Wrapped

By John Pierce, Community Fellow

In honor of Spotify Wrapped season, here’s a (not-so) little creative writing piece I’ve been working on.

The AMI experience can’t be contained in a playlist, but we tried anyway. For best results, throw this on shuffle while you read.

John's AMI Wrapped Playlist

But enough about music, let’s talk about the AMI experience of 2021-22!

Over the last 18 months, you ventured into the veggieverse. You planted and harvested approximately 200 different varieties of produce in at least 21 families and four different kingdoms of life (Plantae, Fungi, Animalia, Bacteria). In no particular order:

  • Brassica - broccoli, mustard greens, kale, turnips, radishes, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, tatsoi, arugula, kohlrabi

  • Lamiaceae - rosemary, basil, mint, shiso, lavender, sage, oregano, tulsi, lemon balm

  • Poaceae - sweet corn, grain corn, rye

  • Fabaceae - beans, beans, and more beans!

  • Amaranthaceae - beets, swiss chard, spinach, amaranth

  • Polygonaceae - rhubarb, Japanese indigo

  • Malvaceae - okra, thai roselle, hibiscus

  • Cucurbitaceae - squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons

  • Solanaceae - peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes

  • Convolvulaceae - sweet potatoes, morning glories

  • Asteraceae - lettuce, sunflowers, sunchokes, artichokes, marigolds, zinnias, calendula, spilanthes

  • Apiaceae - carrots, celery, dill, fennel, celeriac, parsley, cilantro, lovage

  • Alliaceae - onions, garlic, shallots, chives

  • Asparagacaea - asparagus

  • Vitaceae - grapes

  • Rosaceae - apple, cherry, peach, pear, raspberry, blackberry, cornelian cherry, strawberry

  • Ericaceae - blueberry, ghost pipe

  • Tropaeolaceae - nasturtiums

  • Betulaceae - hazelnut

  • Omphalotaceae, Pleurotaceae, & Hericiaceae - shiitake mushroom, blue oyster mushroom, & lion’s mane mushroom, respectively

Red shiso, green tomatoes, artichoke leaves, St. John’s Wort, and foraged American Caesar mushrooms. Lately, you've been feeling a bit like St. John the Baptist in exile on Patmos yourself.

This year you had layers, like an onion. But unlike an onion, you didn’t just grow more onions.

All that farming added up. In 2022, you and the Farm Fellows harvested 13,960.63 lbs of produce. And the year before that, it was 11,932.4 lbs, for a whopping total of 25,893.03 lbs of produce grown on just two acres. And that’s just what made it onto the recordkeeping sheets! As Distribution Coordinators, you and your predecessor Jamie ensured that over 5,000 lbs of that bounty made it out into the community, free of charge to those receiving.

You didn't just pick and pack, though. Farming requires infrastructure, and you helped install 240 feet of solar caterpillar tunnels, added about an acre of farming space including over 1,000 row-feet in the new field garden, and spent about 20 hours constructing a solar dehydrator.

You’ve spent about 60% of your time this year on the mountain, and 40% of your time in Monterey at the Highland Center.

Over two seasons, you and the other Farm Fellows preserved over 150 quarts of produce to keep the season’s bounty year-round. And that’s not including frozen, fermented, and dried items.

But with one veggie, it was love at first bite. Your top produce this year was: Brilliant Celeriac

Dirty and difficult, but worth the effort, this root-bound relative of celery has an amazingly subtle, earthy celery salt flavor and a texture somewhere between a beet and a potato. You loved them roasted, mashed, caramelized with leeks, and grated into soups. Artichokes were a close second - you steamed the flowers, dried and tinctured the leaves, and even pickled the stems in a brine made with vinegar, sugar, and anchovy. But you've never met a veggie you didn't like, have you?

Your top five veggie varietals of 2022 were:

  1. Brilliant Celeriac

  2. Green Globe Artichoke

  3. Pan di Zucchero Chicory

  4. Magic Molly Purple Potatoes

  5. Green Wave Mustard Greens

Artichokes and okra being the two most beautiful vegetables in the world.

Many wonder but few know the hidden lives of vegetables. As a two-season farmer, you can now speak on this hot-button issue.

Here’s what a few of your favorite veggie varieties might say if asked the eternal question: “What vibe do I give off?”

  • Green Magic & Arcadia Broccoli - Smart but feels lonely sometimes, good at math.

  • Deep Purple Carrots - Popular, but can come off as snobby. Secretly an old soul.

  • Cipollini Onions - Down to earth, absolutely gorgeous but low key crazy af. Heart of gold.

  • Grex Beets - LOVES getting ready to go out, very silly but knows when to get real.

  • White Egg & Oasis Turnips - Down for anything, love em or hate em.

  • Winter Giant Spinach - Loyal, iconic, not going to hog the spotlight.

  • Carmine Splendor Okra - Stunning, unique, and stylish, always has good insights.

  • Lacinato kale - Down for whatever, pizza and wings or a night at the opera. Always has exactly what you need on their person at any given time.

  • Bodacious Sweet Corn - Fun and well meaning, but kind of a space cadet.