Despite this summer’s record heat and drought, people in offices all over the city are overwhelmed by co-workers bringing in unwanted squash, officials say.
“We’re hearing that both yellow squash and zucchini are being carried in by the bagful and given away, and sometimes even anonymously left in break rooms,” says Pettus Read, director of communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau.
The bumper crop of unwanted squash has come about because home gardeners are continuing to water their gardens to compensate for the hot and dry conditions, resulting in squash vines overwhelming less hardy plants. The problem is exacerbated by the growing popularity of subscriptions to community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms, which furnish weekly boxes of seasonal fruits and vegetables to their customers.
“This box is about half squash,” grumbled one customer at a CSA pickup location at the Franklin Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. “That means my co-workers will receive a generous gift of squash come Monday.”
“I was just walking down the hall the other day and somebody handed me a patty pan squash,” one Vanderbilt employee lamented. “What am I supposed to do with this thing? Don’t tell me about cutting it in half and baking it in the oven. Face it: nobody likes them.”
While an occasional side dish of steamed squash or loaf of zucchini bread is enjoyed by some people, the sheer volume of late-summer squash this year has overwhelmed even the most creative cook, leaving some to fall back on the dreaded standby, the squash casserole.
“The person who likes squash casserole is as mythical as the person who likes a fruitcake at Christmas time,” says one local cook.At least one environmentally minded gardener has figured out a solution: “I just pick them, cut them up, and put them straight into my compost, so that they’ll provide good rich dirt for next year’s squash plants. It’s the cycle of life.”
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