I didn’t ever think it would be like this.
Me, a gardener.
Well, I prefer the term farmer, really.
I’ve had an interest in where my food comes for almost as long as I can remember, even though I never really grew any of my own – my mom had a black thumb, and up until very recently, I was able to kill any variety of houseplant. When I was ten years old, my five-years-older sister was a vegetarian, as was my favorite aunt, and, well, it seemed like a good idea to not hurt animals for food! As I’ve grown older, there have been other reasons that I’ve stayed vegetarian, from simply that it’s a fifteen year old habit to ideas about sustainable food.
When I was in London, before my partner and I were quite as serious as we are now, we decided that we would go live on an organic farm for a while and learn how to be farmers. It’s called “WWOOFing” – coming from the World Wide Organization of Organic Farms, a cool organization that hooks up people who want to learn organic farming with people who need help on their farms. Usually in exchange for room & board, you can travel pretty much anywhere and learn, be in touch with the land, etc. Unfortunately, a massive rainstorm and a few terrible people at Delta foiled our plans and our trip to Tennessee, and these days, I’m not really healthy enough to pursue something like that, but if you are, you should definitely consider it. It’s also a relatively cheap way to get away from where you live for a while – not exactly a vacation, since it’s hard work, but it is definitely rewarding and can be a great way to travel.
When that didn’t pan out, I tried my hardest to incorporate local food into our lives in other ways. I hit the farmers markets hard, and, as I’ve blabbed about all over the place, we joined a CSA last year. The CSA was the best experience ever, providing us with fresh veggies, fruit, herbs, and garlic for the whole summer and the majority of the fall. Last year I almost grew some sugar pumpkins for pie, but I planted a little late and we had an early frost, so they just didn’t make it. I talked about the pumpkins and the CSA a lot with some folks that were very into gardening where I worked, since there is a community garden very nearby. They really encouraged me to get into gardening myself, but there were a lot of roadblocks there.
Some of the roadblocks were small and seem silly, but I don’t always fare too well outdoors in the summer. I’m one of those people that mosquitos love and I am quite allergic. I wilt in the heat, getting exhausted and even breaking out into hives. But, with my immune system busted from my meds for my RA, these things may be much less of a problem – there’s a silver lining to catching every cold and flu that comes around!
And then there’s the issue of spoons. I just don’t have enough of them most days. But – and some of you may not know this yet – I’ve recently gotten quite a bit more sick, and because of that, I had to stop working. This was the kick in the butt I needed to start a garden!
It might seem counterintuitive to start a huge project like a garden when you’re feeling sick, but I needed something to get me out of the house. Since Charlie goes off to school and work, I’m often at home by myself during the day and sitting around inside watching soap operas is just not going to cut it for me. I want to make sure I sit outside in the sunshine for a while each day, and that I have a bit of a project to work on. Plus, I have helpers – Charlie’s mom is an awesome gardener, and Charlie is going to help out, too.
You may be thinking, “That’s a lovely story, but why is this on your food blog?”
It’s still about the food. This is about growing food, growing fresh fruits and vegetables (actually, it may all be vegetables, depending on if we get some blueberry bushes or not – did you know that watermelon is actually a vegetable, related to squash and pumpkins?). It’s still about food, except now it will be about the food going all the way from the seed to turning into a beautiful plant to being made into a lovely recipe that I’ll share here with you.
That is, if my mother’s black thumb isn’t genetic.