Learning Resident Anne Calder offers her second installment in a series of articles from the Ashram kitchen.
It has been over half a century since Swami Radha settled on this beautiful land I have come to know and love as Yasodhara Ashram. I can clearly see how her vision aligned with the needs of the community and with Mother Nature. I feel nourished by the fruits of this land and at peace with the sustainable approach exercised.
My Learning Residency in the Kitchen has mainly been spent over the winter months, therefore I’ve only witnessed the tail end of garden production. Coming from an eastern province, I was astounded to serve garden fresh kale at meals even during the snowy season.
The menu at Yasodhara Ashram is based on seasonal and sustainable practices, which includes a large harvest from the Ashram garden and orchard and maintaining five beehives that keep the plants pollinated.
Though the garden is large and thriving, it doesn’t fulfill all the needs during the busy summer months. Instead of buying from food giants, the Ashram’s chef chooses farms from the region based on cost, quality and carbon footprint. I was lucky enough to meet with two local farmers to see where our food comes from. It made me realize how disconnected and desensitized I can be when grocery shopping in the city—fast and furious shopping tactics, with a glance at the country of source, before rushing off to my next errand. How heartwarming to see firsthand the beautiful land that grows our food and the kindness of the farmers who tend to it. Local farmers deserve more of our support.
Eating seasonally not only benefits our health through freshness, but also reduces the carbon footprint and costs when purchasing foods while they are abundant. And I can now confidently declare a personal knowledge of 101 ways to enjoy squash over the winter months.
This approach is accessible to all of us all with a little planning, and in the long run enriches many. I will certainly leave the Ashram with a newfound appreciation of sustainable practices. And whenever possible, I will always opt to buy from local organic farmers if I’m not harvesting from a garden of my own.