It Takes a Village (Mike Geller)


From The Desk Of…

Mike Geller, Chief Food Curator, The Village

On a recent crisp morning, I stood amidst lavender, cone flowers, lemon balm and purple basil. I was, indeed, in a garden. But five stories above the city of Stamford, this particular rooftop sanctuary was different.

There’s a purpose beyond the plants.

As a delicate cocktail of fragrances danced and played in the air, I thought about the many ways in which this garden-in-the-sky grows more than just produce. Children from the community learning about growing their own food and the importance of a local food system…An event filled with people celebrating a special milestone….A chef inviting guests to hand pick herbs for a special farm-to-table dish at The Wheel, the restaurant 50 feet below. Underlying all of this is one theme — one that encapsulates what The Village stands for — bringing people together in a meaningful way.

I remember going to the Bronx as a little boy to help my Italian grandmother in her tiny backyard garden….the warmth of the sun, the feel of the dirt. Before heading inside, she’d always pause and tell me to close my eyes and take a minute to inhale the magical scent of fresh-picked basil. Then we’d create a meal with the ingredients we harvested and sit around the table laughing and enjoying homemade pasta with tomato sauce (she called it gravy). That gravy, that gathering…well, it all started with the garden.

As I glanced around the rooftop garden at The Village, I looked past the flowers and herbs and gazed into the future. It’s a sunny one…filled with meaningful moments and many (gravy-inspired) gatherings in the garden.

In the meantime, don’t forget to stop and smell the basil…