A Visit to Laicos Aidem Farm


We seek out nature when reality makes us feel uncomfortable. Frustrated. Unworthy.

A strawberry! That’s what I craved today. Something small and juicy. A burst of flavor to remedy my day.

So I drove down to the farm to see if I could find one. Laicos Aidem is a community farm near my home where people in the neighborhood can plant all different varieties of fruits and vegetables. It operates like a U-pick: the farm manager rings up your order, and a portion of the money goes to the original grower. Each person is allowed only one basket per visit to make sure there’s enough for everyone.

The purpose of the farm is to promote biodiversity, community, and healthy eating. Last time I was here, some of the tomatoes were starting to rot, but there were still a good variety of berries, peas, squashes and lettuce.

Upon arriving, the farm manager popped out at the gate to greet me, his square face flush with an ombré of pinks and purples. After handing me a small plastic basket, he faded away as quickly as he’d come, and I was left to survey the farm: 1.5 acres of plants.

I quickly got to work, eager to find my strawberry. Putting the basket down, I crouched down at the first row of tall and bushy plants, looking up. Strawberry. There were none in this area.

I picked up the basket and continued down the first row. The plants were thick and tangled, most of them young tomato plants that wouldn’t fruit till August, but mixed in were a whole variety of weeds too. I turned around to look at the second row. This one had many different heights of plants. I’ll find it here, I thought.

Strawberry. I searched. I walked by a whole patch of dead looking organic content. It hadn’t been this hard to find a fruit last time I visited. Then, after looking through rows of George’s flowering vineyard plants, a hint of red.

I ran towards it, exhilarated at the prospect of finding a strawberry so soon. I felt the soil pick up beneath my feet as I ducked between the vineyard plants, never taking my eyes off of the target.

Getting closer, I smiled. I was right. The strawberry plant was small, but it was just what I needed. I quickly pulled the little fruit off and bit the tip. It was still slightly white, but the tip was always the best. I savored the soft crunch of the fruit, the texture of the seedy skin, and the juicy interior.

But it only lasted for a few seconds.

Soon, the fruit was gone, and I looked up, frantically searching for more.

The plant was small and only had that one fruit. The other strawberry plants around it were all either eaten by squirrels or still unripe.

So I continued along, but it was all just weeds. Or vineyard crops.

I hated wine.

My eyes were burning now from looking so hard, and my back ached from bending over. But the sweet aftertaste from that one strawberry was enough to keep me going.

Four rows of squashes and weeds later, I found my jackpot. A whole row of strawberry plants. I sat down immediately, gorging myself with the sweet fruit of the first plant. oops. I had forgotten about my basket. I quickly snatched it up, filling the small plastic thing with as many strawberries as I could. I was on my knees now, crawling across the row to scroll through the plants as quickly as possible.

My basket quickly filled up, I had reached my limit. I let out a frustrated groan. I didn’t drive all the way over here for nothing!

I stopped for a second, sitting there on my dirty knees, wondering what to do. It only took a second to realize what I needed to do. The tall vineyard plants behind me hid me from the view of the farm manager.

I put down the tiny basket, and turned back to my prey. I clawed at the fruits, stuffing them into my mouth and letting the sweet juice dribble down my chin. My cheeks puffed with fruit, and my stomach expanded to make space. More. I needed more.

Soon, half the row was behind me, and I fell on my butt, stomach round, slightly nauseous, gazing dreamily at it all.

Then my mouth filled with saliva, and I felt a pressure pushing upward. I covered my mouth but I couldn’t stop it. A bucket of pink gushed over the plants, and half a row of half-digested strawberries blanketed the soil.

Frantic, I began to scoop up handfuls of clean soil to cover my vomit. The dirt was under my fingernails now, and I buried a plant or two in the process. When I was finished, I stood up, holding the flimsy basket, and admired my handiwork. The area looked almost as it had before, (minus a plant or two).

I turned to leave, and walked back towards the farm manager’s stall.

“Strawberries, huh?” he grunted.

I managed a yeah.

I could feel the buried vomit searing into my back, and my head still swirled at the thought of it.

After he rang me up, I said goodbye and quickly scampered back to my car, basket in hand. I couldn’t stand the thing. It was like a little kid reminding me of what I had done, plastic fingernails digging into my hand. I threw it into my trunk, the strawberries spilling out into the sea of black felt. I slammed the trunk door down. Good riddance. The thought of the little fruits made me sick.

I turned to walk to the driver’s seat, and as I did, the farm’s wooden sign caught my eye.

Laicos Aidem.

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