One of the most e-mailed stories on the New York Times‘ Web site this week has been a Jane Brody column, “A Little Dirt Is Good For You“. Jane’s take–and that of a lot of researchers–is that a child’s immune system benefits more from contact with a bit of dirt than from living in an ultra-clean environment.
How does this connect to the CSA? I have a decent-sized suburban backyard and there’s even a “mud corner”, so my kids play in dirt a lot. They help plant and pick from my meager garden beds. But when we joined the CSA last year, they got a chance to connect with an awful lot of dirt–and they had a blast. They dug weeds out of the zucchini patch and disappeared into a large field of native New Jersey blackberries with brambles twice as tall as they were. In both cases, they did a lot of what Leonard likes to call “rigorous product testing”. And yes, they got dirty, very dirty.
Since we made the decision to renew our CSA share, the kids have been making plans for their time on the farm this year. My little guy wants to get back in the blackberries; my older son is determined to help with potatoes and chickens. I’m stocking up on laundry detergent.