Christopher's slurping from the side of a green melon as I get up from my lunch time resting spot in the orchard. He's gnawing on it from the side, looking out over the youth farmer gardens.
"Is that melon from your garden?" I ask.
"Yeah, it is!"
"Sweet, that's awesome." He nods, keeps gnawing, looking kind of unsatisfied. It looks a little underripe from the deep green of the exterior. I was headed back to the picnic tables to start getting ready for the afternoon's projects, but I decide to linger for a bit.
"Is this your plot?" I ask as I point to the plants next to us.
"Yes, it's this whole section here in the corner." He swings his arm to expand my view beyond the two beds in front of us. He's got a whole patch of cabbages that are forming heads, a section of basil and bolting lettuce, a tomato jungle with a few jalapeño plants in back, and a neat row of tall broccoli plants. I can't see the melon plant from where we are-- it must be hiding under the tomatoes. I comment on how many cherry tomatoes he has, and how big the broccoli looks.
"Yeah, but it's not making heads yet. See only this one's almost ready," he says, pointing to the one on the end that I hadn't noticed. It's almost fully beaded. "But the rest don't seem like they're very happy."
"Oh, they seem great to me," I offer. And really, they do. Large, spreading leaves will surely give way to healthy heads in a couple weeks. I bend closer and see the tiny beginnings of those flower buds forming at the center of the plants. "See? They're already growing!"
Christopher looks down and smiles as I add, "I'm always tempted to eat those baby flowers. There must be so much nutrition packed in them." He nods silently, still gazing out over his work. He told me last week, when I asked if he's interested in farming as a career, that he'd rather practice it as a hobby. He wants to be an engineer: a good choice for keeping up a healthy gardening habit. Despite a couple minor misgivings about plants not growing quite as well as he'd hoped, he looks mighty proud. And he should be. His plot is one of the healthiest in this whole garden.
I leave him there to keep taking it all in: a young farmer out standing in his field.