Every Winter I miss the smell of fresh cut grass and the sunny weekends spent down at the creek and find myself wondering, “Why do I live in a part of the country where there are four distinct seasons?” But this Winter, I managed to break that cycle. A friend of mine gifted me a fabulous book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s a story of a family that documented a year of procuring as much of their own food as possible from their own backyards or from neighboring farms. I found myself savoring every word on each page, not wanting the book to end. And just when the leaves started falling, I arrived at the section in the book about how joyous Winter can be. I thought, “Joyous, how can that be? It’s such a strong word to use for that period.” As Barbara Kingsolver, the author, says, “… after the depressing Daylight Robbery incident.” Not leaving it at that, she went on to describe the delights of paging through seed catalogs and preparing for Spring. I thought about the word preparing and it dawned on me that it was my way out of the old winter dread. I found myself truly inspired by her words.
Next thing I knew, I was pouring through seed catalogs as well. I was reading endless amounts of information on starting seeds, preparing soil, garden layout design, companion planting, and much more. As a designer, I discovered that a lot of the same processes I use everyday in my job were the same for gardening. I found myself pondering the possibilities in garden layout and selection of plant species instead of design layout and typeface selection. Rather than having a mouse and keyboard in my hands, I now had a shovel and seed trays. In one way it’s a juxtaposition to my job and in another just a continuation of my week. I’m developing ideas in my mind and translating them into reality.
Now, as my seeds start to sprout I feel like a dotting mother. Their leaves are so small and their lives are so dependent on my actions. As they grow stronger, I find myself feeling even more joyous. One day last week, it was cold and pouring down rain, and I felt like it was the 4th of July. As more and more of my plants grow, I’m starting to think about the endless amount of vegetables, herbs, and flowers that I will have from my own garden this year. I can’t wait to share them with my friends, family, and neighbors while admiring and discussing the heirloom tomatoes and gigantic Sunflowers. I have always made the effort to eat local and buy from Farmer’s Markets, but eating food grown in my backyard is empowering and uniting.
I encourage others to think about starting a small garden as we quickly approach Spring. Biver Farms sells organic seedlings that are available at Garden Heights Nursery or Whole Foods throughout the Spring. It is definitely easier to start with plants because they can go straight from the store and into the ground.
There is such a big shift towards buying local and participating in the Slow Food movement. People are re-connecting with the people, plants, animals, land, and waters that produce their food. Even if you like to eat out at restaurants, there are plenty of them that are sourcing local ingredients. Two of my favorites are Local Harvest Cafe and Winslow’s Home. For me, the more I participate in these things, the more my love for food grows. Who knows, maybe there will be a book out on shelves one day that reads: Design, Vegetable, Miracle.