P-Patch Provides Community Connection and Year-Round Produce for Gardeners Vasant and Sharda

Interbay P-Patch

How long have you and your family been gardening at the P-Patch?

Vasant: We’ve been gardening here, maybe four years. I am retired so I do a lot of community work. I heard about the giving garden, started volunteering, and eventually got a plot for us and a plot for our daughter and grandchildren.

Growing up I never did garden. Sharda is from a city and I grew up in a town, but we didn’t have any room to garden. After coming here, we had homes and I got more into it because I really like to grow things. Now we live in a condo, so the P-Patch is a perfect solution, really a win/win situation. We get an opportunity to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds and that’s really wonderful! Then there is the family aspect. My daughter has a plot as well and sometimes we see her and our grandchildren here. We get a steady supply of fresh organic food. It’s the pleasure of growing, and it’s a physical activity.

What role has the P-Patch served for you throughout the pandemic?

Vasant: This has been a blessing during COVID, we can still come here and see people! We also come to volunteer at the Giving Garden on Tuesdays which is a nice time to see people and help provide food for the food bank. It provides a very serene environment; gardening is like a meditation for me.  

Sharda:  We come to the garden about, every other day. Probably five days a week. All the people here are very friendly and very helpful. We’ve really missed our Saturday lunches at the garden which stopped because of COVID. Hopefully, they will start again next year. That was great. Different people would bring different dishes and we would just sit and chat with other gardeners. Also, look at all the flowers, it just makes you feel so good.

Vasant showing his “Elephant ear” plants in his community garden plot at the Interbay P-Patch

Is there a vegetable/plant you like to grow that connects you to your family heritage?

Vasant: We grow a plant called the Elephant ear (Colocasia) which is more of a cultural plant. If you go to some Indian stores, you would probably be able to find the Elephant ear. I buy the roots in the Asian store. Some people use it as a decorative plant, and there are two varieties. One is black, which tastes better, but I haven’t seen that here. And the hot peppers you see in the greenhouse are my year-round supply. I dry them, make special chili pickles and send them to my son back East.

I start my own plants so I can supply other gardeners with plants to grow and then we all harvest together. There are at least three people that come harvest after I am done.

What is your favorite dish to make with produce from your garden?

Vasant: Once we start getting eggplant we make spicy eggplant. With Elephant Ear we make an Indian delicacy called Patra. You take the leaves and then you create a batter which is a mixture of chickpeas, salt, and some spices. Then you apply it, put the next leaf, spread again, and keep layering maybe 10 leaves. Then you roll it up and steam it. You can also deep fry afterward if you like.

Sharda: I make tomato sauce and that way I can store to use for almost the entire year. I freeze it into cubes which is easier for storage. Vasant loves to make special dishes so he can just go grab a few cubes when he needs them.  My grandkids love zucchini bread because I use chocolate chips. It becomes so rich. Otherwise, they won’t eat zucchini, but as soon as I put it in the bread, my 4-year-old granddaughter gets so excited!