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A number of years ago our vegetable plot in the garden was grassed over and so the joy of eating fresh produce especially in the summer has been denied us. And so, when lockdown started, we decided to make some raised beds and planted the usual tomatoes, courgettes, beans, peppers, radish, lettuce and our favourite – carrots. There is something extra carroty about freshly pulled carrots. We carefully nurtured them, fed, watered, watched them grow and talked to them. As spring moved into summer and the weather got warmer we started to look forward to the day when we could eat the produce. Then the winds came, stopping the beans from setting, blowing over the tomatoes which became well battered and bruised. And being such a damp early summer, we thought it kind to let the slugs and snails feed on the fresh green shoots. I know they are all part of our wonderful creation but please God don’t let them take all the veg! The little plot despite some setbacks, has given us fresh produce as autumn shows itself with the cooler mornings and those beautiful low-lying mists that hover over the fields at dawn. All this is a reminder of the wonderful creation God has given us. We are truly blessed here in Lincolnshire.

My daily walk during lockdown, which has become more of a weekly one now things are a little more normal, has given me the chance of watching the fields and hedgerows change through the seasons. From the first signs of the crops showing through to them being harvested and the land sown again for the next harvest. Watching the hedgerows give up their plant secrets, seeing the insects that thrive on the grasses and other plants has been very uplifting. To watch and be part of the everchanging seasons that mark our year has been a privilege. Sadly, during these walks, there has also been frustration and anger at the amount of litter that gets tossed onto the verges. Not just beer cans, plastic bottles and food cartons but on more than one occasion bin bags full of rubbish. Doesn’t every household have a rubbish collection? Doesn’t the council provide recycling facilities? This beautiful God-given creation is at great risk and if we want future generations to enjoy its wonders as we are able to, isn’t it important that we do our bit? That we try to eliminate those things which cannot be recycled, that we avoid waste, that we re-make and make do.

Autumn is a good time to celebrate the wonderful creation we are privileged to live in and to consider afresh how to be good stewards of creation. The story in Genesis tells of God planting a garden, a garden called Eden and gave it to the gardeners to look after. We may not all be gardeners but we all have a part to play in caring for the Eden that we live in.

And God saw what he had made and it was good.

The tiny field that has been our garden, our Eden, has been very productive especially the tomato and courgette plants and along with generous gifts from those much more green-fingered than we are. The soup kitchen at Sunnymede has been in action making use of the wonderful fresh produce. A friend gave me a recipe which I have adapted, added ingredients, taken some away and this one is a favourite.

Roast tomato and pepper soup.

No measuring in this recipe, all a bit of guesswork but it works every time!
Put enough tomatoes to cover the base of a roasting pan along with 3 or 4 peppers cut into chunks, two or three small new potatoes and a tablespoon of tomato puree.
Add some sprigs of basil and parsley, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil and roast for approx. 45mins – 1hr at 200ºC, turning occasionally.
When the tomatoes are well browned and starting to stick to the bottom of the pan take them out of the oven and put to one side.
Warm some vegetable or meat stock (approx. 600ml) through and pour into the pan, scraping the juices from the bottom.
Allow to cool before whizzing it through a blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary. You may need to add more stock or water depending on how thick the soup is.
Leave if possible overnight as this usually tastes better the next day after the flavours have had time to merge.
This freezes well, so the taste of summer can be relived in the chill of winter.

Add some cooked red lentils and their liquid and add to the roast tomatoes, seasoned well with basil and thyme.
Add courgettes instead of peppers. Looks a bit pale but tastes delicious!

May God bless us all.