There’s nothing like the sweet smell of pancakes and warm syrup on a Saturday morning. Especially if you wake up at dawn to cook enough of them to feed 150 people, like we did on November 2, when Gardening the Community celebrated its annual Harvest Fundraiser and Pancake Breakfast. We were thrilled to find that once we opened up our doors, it wasn’t long before cheerful lines of people began trailing out of them, waiting for hot pancakes.
We sliced boxes of fair trade bananas and whisked up a giant bowl of homemade whipped cream. The youth chopped bright orange carrots and diced up our very own sweet potatoes from our gardens in Mason Square to fry up into our special healthy Harvest Pancake. (Check out the recipe below!) Local apples simmered on the stove and strawberries mixed into sauces to add to the bountiful table of pancake toppings. We raffled off fruit baskets, pastries, handmade ceramics and overflowing bins of local vegetables. Kids played with balloons and made cornhusk dolls. And finally, after most people had eaten their fill of pancakes, the youth took the stage to share their stories and gave out awards to honor all of the hard work that went into yet another successful season.
We’re thrilled to be able to say that this year, we actually sold out of tickets. In fact, so many people wanted to come at the last minute, that unfortunately we even had to turn a few away. People came from many places and had a lot to say about what brought them there. We had curious newcomers who drove in from up and down the highway to learn about our work for the first time. We had a solid showing of our neighbors from the immediate community and our families. We also were glad to have the help of dedicated volunteers from Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges, along with our friends from Live Well Springfield and our dedicated Board members.
As we gear up for the Valley Gives campaign, which is our next big project coming up in mid-December, we’re feeling very grateful. It is that time of year when now that our harvest has come and mostly gone, we want to stop and take stock of all that we have to be thankful for. And once again, we are tremendously grateful for all our supporters.
We see that generosity in the patience that many breakfast-goers showed by staying late to help clean up the kitchen and sweep the floors. We see that generosity in the flood of warm notes that we received after the event, as many wrote simply to tell us how glad they were that they came. We see that generosity in the commitments that people made to chip in and become what we call “sustainers” of our work by making regular contributions, even and especially when those monthly contributions are relatively small.
This is what we mean when we say that we are grateful for much more than just the core financial contributions that helped us get near our fundraising goal. What we set out to do and mean to keep doing is to cultivate community. We think a lot about what this means. It is in our name, and is also woven into every element of our work, both the day-to-day scramble as well as the long-term vision. So here’s to that. Let us continue to work hard to bridge divides between people of all backgrounds so that we can better face the overlapping issues at the center of our mission: food justice, youth empowerment, undoing racism, and building healthier, more equitable communities.
Let us continue to cultivate all of these things together.
Harvest Pancake Recipe:
From the kitchen of Gardening the Community
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted before measuring
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 medium carrot shredded
- 1 small apple shredded
- 1/4 cup shredded sweet potato
Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk; add to flour mixture, stirring only until smooth. Blend in melted butter, sweet potate,carrot, and apple. If the batter seems too thick to pour, add a little more milk. Cook on a hot, greased griddle, using about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook until bubbly, a little dry around the edges, and lightly browned on the bottom; turn and brown the other side. Recipe for pancakes serves 5.