Walking the Green Path: An Abundance of Raspberries

Fresh Raspberries

By Daniel Swenson-Klatt | Updated March 27, 2023

Most of my business life is spent with concerns of scarcity.  Never enough capital, never enough revenue, never enough time to complete the tasks on my to-do list.  We’re always running out of something – which with food is usually a good thing when most items are perishable and need to get used.

I spend a great deal of time taking inventory, placing orders, hoping that everything we need arrives, and hoping that my predictions for what we will use and how much we will use actually match what I’ve been able to have delivered. I worry a lot about whether we’re making enough money to pay for all of these ingredients.

It’s rare when I can stop and feel a sense of abundance within my café, but when it does happen, when the tables are full, and the staff and I are bringing food out to people in a good mood, and there’s gratefulness and thanks moving back and forth…well, if I can stop, and just soak it up…that’s a great feeling.

We have enough.  We are enough.

Recently, I’ve been carrying a lot of sadness from the violence and pain here in our city, around the country, and indeed around the world.  There seems to be a scarcity of love, tolerance, patience, and peace and that’s hard to sit with.

I come to the shop knowing that we’re a source of community and peace and it’s as if we, at the café, need to produce more to make up for the hate and fear around us.  Is that the business of a restaurant?  What does that have to do with food?

It’s that time of summer when the raspberries in my yard are ripening at a pace beyond my ability to pick them.  I pick all the ripe ones in the morning and return in the afternoon and think I couldn’t have missed quite so many – did they ripen in those few hours? But there they are. Ready.

Some are ready to fall from the stem when I go to pick them.  Some are past their prime and turning slightly, fermenting into a raspberry wine of sorts.  My wife and I eat them daily.  We promise ourselves to stop each time we walk by and pick a few.  We can’t keep up. There are more than I can give my attention to.  They are abundant.

I give thanks to the mysteries that keep this patch of raspberries producing their crop.  We planted a few canes a few years back, and in their three-year cycle, they grow, mature, and die off.

I smile, considering how the first year canes sit among the producing canes, green and strong, like apprentices, watching berries form on the canes around them, seeing the love of our harvest, and waiting and hoping for their chance to shine in the coming year.  I think of the third year canes, giving one last final hurrah before passing the baton on to the next in line.

I feel like I really don’t do much to make this abundance happen, but it was our soil preparation, planting, and tending to the canes that started them on a good path.  It was our watering when dry times persisted.  It was our planting of pollinator plants around them to be sure that the bees would be around to help set the fruit.  It was our staking and pruning that allowed the new canes to have a place to grow freely.  But, wow, so many raspberries!  What did I do to deserve them?  It’s abundance like this that creates a feeling of wanting to share what I have.

When it comes to being a restaurant, especially one that has been fortunate to become a neighborhood gathering place, sharing from a sense of abundance is vital.  We are blessed with many talented staff, great farmers, helpful service people, and friendly customers.  I cannot forget that it is from this abundance that we are able to share what we have and it is not about scarcity at all.

Throughout the painful, tragic events of the past weeks, it is very evident that love is abundant in our world.  It comes out in force at these times, beyond anything we can imagine, and pushing us forward to a time when we will have the patience and tolerance to be better neighbors to each other.

Three years ago, I wrote a summer column about picking raspberries (since my childhood, it is truly one of my greatest passions) and noted the challenge of working with thorny canes to get a good harvest.  At that time, we were in the midst of road construction on Nicollet and the very beginning conversations of the Seward Co-op’s Friendship Store.

Three years later…I trust that the abundance of good that has followed from these events is becoming clear, that it was worth the thorny effort, the careful plucking, and the ability to see underneath the leaves to find the hidden gems of the harvest of community building.

Join me to find a way to sing of the abundance that reaches everyone along the path we walk together.

Walking the Green Path is a series of stories by Daniel Swenson-Klatt, the owner of Butter Bakery Cafe, about what it’s like to run a small business focused on sustainability and building community.

Daniel Swenson-Klatt is a writer, community activist, and owner of Butter Bakery Cafe located in South Minneapolis.

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