“If I could just have…” Magic Happens: Homegrown Tomato Sandwich Days at Croasdaile Village Retirement Community

By HarvestShare member Denise Waters, part of the clergy HarvestShare program through Life Around the Table. Denise is the Croasdaile Village Life Enrichment Director and Chaplain’s Associate. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story, Denise!

Magic happens at Anathoth Community Gardens and Farm every week, but nowhere is that magic so evident as in homegrown tomato sandwich days at Croasdaile Village Retirement Community.  This nearly two decades long tradition generates much excitement every year and has grown large enough to need multiple days to accommodate the crowds who sign up!  This year because of the late growing season Croasdaile turned to Anathoth to supplement the late crop of the local farmer who has supplied tomatoes for years, and Anathoth did not disappoint!

The tradition began after a brainstorming session in which residents were asked “what do you miss” most since moving to a retirement community.  One resident wistfully replied without hesitation, “If I could just have a homegrown tomato sandwich I think my life would be complete.”   That longing turned into reality and a tradition was born.

The tomatoes are sliced and piled high on two trays – one tray with peeled tomatoes and one tray with peelings on,  with “corner” pieces piled in the middle of each tray for the purpose of helping to cover every inch of bread!  There are choices of bread (the old fashioned white varieties like Sunbeam (square top) Merita and Bunny (round tops) as well as whole wheat and newcomers like honey oat.  There are choices of mayonnaise (Dukes, Hellman’s, Kraft, Miracle Whip, and the light versions of each of those, in addition to mustard. For those who wonder aloud, yes Duke’s is the most popular!  There’s an additional stop with seven or eight choices of chips.

Early birds arrive and soon contented sighs, wonderful smiles, lively conversation ensue after each has made a sandwich just the way they like it!  Sometimes  the mayonnaise is thick on the bread, sometimes thinly spread, but always with great anticipation.  New friends are made over the glorious feast.  Those from other parts of the country where this isn’t a tradition wonder aloud about this custom, but soon are converted after a few juicy bites.

Oh and there are those who prefer some additions (like fresh basil, bacon, onion, even peanut butter).  Some sneak those additions in and may take some good natured teasing, but they are still welcomed to the feast.

According to Life Enrichment Director Denise Waters, even residents who are very ill pay attention to the calendar when late July rolls around and send friends to claim a sandwich for them, made just the way they like it!  Homegrown tomatoes, summer’s gift, have healing powers  in one’s memory!  Articles have been written and sermons preached about the wonders of this simple pleasure.    Happy summer everyone!  Thank you, Anathoth – you’ve enriched our lives for sure!

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