What's In Your Community Garden

What's In Your Community Garden

By Lauren Hasson

Walking along the banks of the Napa River, I came across an unexpected sight.  Rows and rows of extraordinary wood boxes teeming with vegetables of every sort in what I discovered to be one of the most enormously beautiful community gardens I have ever seen.  I began to wonder how they managed this, who worked it for these extraordinary results, who harvests the produce?

Meandering down a path, I found a gate with this sign:

Napa Chefs Garden Co-Op

These gardens are managed under an agreement between the property and a group of local chefs.  The produce harvested by the members is served exclusively by their restaurants in downtown Napa.

Picturing chefs with garden hoes, worm castings and seeds, staking tomatoes and pulling out old produce and weeds seemed strange enough, but thinking of them sharing this land bordered on the absurd!  Knowing chefs and the competitive nature of restaurants, it seemed spectacularly fantastic that they would come together to forge this alliance.  Wouldn’t one restaurant want to have the competitive edge over someone else. 

“We have the freshest ingredients!” 

“ Our seed to table, sought-after freshness is only found at.....”

They were creating cuisine with the seasonal bounty of Napa Valley, freshest zucchini blossoms, tomatoes, lettuces of every sort. Planning their menus during the peak season when they would harvest started the moment that seed was placed into the ground.

Why would they give up their single competitive edge?

What if they were each so confident in their own unique culinary craft as chefs, that they knew their restaurant was a unique expression of who they are, that their menu cannot be replicated by someone else? What if they so loved the food they were creating, that they wanted to help each other excel at being the best chef possible?  What if their vision was so great that they knew they could make Napa a destination for great food and wine, where each extraordinary restaurant made them a destination spot for just that? 

As a community, we are greater together than alone. 

Something extraordinary can happen when we release our fears of being overshadowed by someone else’s talents, embracing our own unique design.  Our menu is different than anyone else’s because it came from our vision, our sense of taste, our creative abilities. 

A creative culture begins as we each show up and allow ourselves room for discovery.  Sharing ideas and thoughts with others ignites us to places within us that are longing to be discovered.  Your great ideas are springing forth new possibilities for my great ideas.  Moving in this environment requires the hard work of moving each dream into a reality, but a culture that is non-competitive will collectively produce a collective of brilliant opportunities for each person to thrive in their own right.

It was no surprise to read that Napa Valley boasts six Michelin-Starred Restaurants!

I can hardly wait to see what we will produce together!

For a great summer read:  Vivid Vision by Cameron Herold