Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kids and gardens

Lorraine Johnson's book City Farmer begins with a story about her 10-year-old nephew who had never seen a "real live" (freshly picked) pea. The pod-like thing in her hand that she was shelling had him completely confused. When she finally got him to taste a fresh pea, his response was one of surprise and pleasure:

"It's sweet, not mushy, not like canned peas." I offered him another. Pretty soon we were shelling at a great rate, stuffing little peas in our faces, talking with our mouths full. It felt like a minor triumph, winning this pea convert through direct contact with something so recently attached to a stem. 
--City Farmer, p. 1-2

I remember my days in 4H and FFA where we would host special events for elementary school kids to see and touch real live farm animals. The joy and amazement on their faces when they saw a cow or a sheep or a chicken for the first time in their lives was unbelievable. So many children today are "city kids" who never get to experience where their food comes from any more than a trip to the grocery store.

My personal background obviously gives me reason to jump at any chance I have to take Abby to the county fair, or to an apple orchard, and most recently to planting and caring for my own garden. I love getting out there every day and pulling a few weeds and giving the plants some water. Abby has learned how to squeeze the nozzle on the hose to help me water my flowers in the front yard, and when her pool is full in the backyard she will take her little watering can and help me water the veggie plants.

I can't wait for the days this summer when she'll help me pick peas (not too far away!) and beans. I know from last year that she enjoys eating them raw. :) And as she (and our other future kid(s)) get older I hope to encourage their knowledge early on that the grocery store is only a stop on the journey our food can take to get to us.

If you have kids, how do you teach them about their food?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seasonal Celebration and Conscious Consumption

"One of the defining features of our time
is the slow and steady erosion of seasonality."
-Lorraine Johnson, City Farmer

During my pregnancy I've had a few cravings here and there, but nothing too terribly strong. Except I did find myself gazing at various fruits at the grocery store. Longing for them to be on sale. Jumping at the chance to get the occasional "cheap" strawberries or watermelon -- which tended to be those that came from Florida or California versus South America... and weren't really all that "cheap".

About three weeks ago I saw sweet corn in the front and center display, and got a half dozen. One of the [few] things I like about summer is sweet corn. The month of August usually consists of fresh boiled or grilled corn-on-the-cob at every dinner meal.

Wait... August? But this was the end of May... Oh of course, this corn came from the southern U.S...

Lorraine goes on in her book City Farmer to say "As the specificities of seasonal changes get lost, we progress into sameness. And it's in the sphere of food that the loss of seasonality can be felt most acutely. One by one, the foods that once marked a particular period of time -- a window of taste - have devolved into a condition of always available."

As I'm becoming more interested in growing my own food and visiting farmers markets for those foods I don't grow, I start thinking about growing seasons and which crops are ready when during the summer. I know that peas are early, cherries are in July, and zucchini are in August. Sure, all of these foods are available pretty much year-round, thanks to other states and other countries. But have we lost some sense of excitement and anticipation, or "celebration" as Lorraine calls it, in regards to our fresh food? "Ho hum, it's just another pear, like the one I had last month, and the month before that, and the month before that, every month in fact."

Putting aside all conversation about "food miles" (the arguments about how far our food travels before we consume it), don't you agree that a basket of green beans picked five minutes ago from your own backyard or a few ears of corn purchased at your local farm stand just taste so much better when they're in season?

Not to mention those fruits and veggies purchased in season are soooo much cheaper...

I'm thinking I'd like to try and choose the produce I get from the grocery store based on seasonality. It's easy to do at farmers markets or your own garden since that's all that's available... But walking into a regular store and seeing a display of watermelons or asparagus out-of-season can be so tempting...

What do you think? Are you a seasonal produce-eater, or do you enjoy the availability of it year-round?

Monday, June 11, 2012

"City" Farmer?

I came across this book at the library the other day and was intrigued. While I don't consider myself living "in the city", I do live within the city limits of my little town -- and in a subdivision, so I have neighbors all around me.

The introduction and first couple of chapters really resounded with me -- I enjoyed the author's style of writing, and she spent a lot of time giving facts and research and her own opinions about the whys of gardening in general. Later chapters dove more heavily into the "city/urban" aspects of farming and gardening (containers and rooftops and community gardens and guerrilla gardening...), so I did some skimming there... But that doesn't discount the emotions the first few chapters encouraged in me.

I expanded my own little garden this year to be my biggest one yet since I've been married (and away from my mom's garden! :)  Of course this is the summer that I'm pregnant and due the end of July... but I just couldn't stay away from that dirt. So far it's been easily manageable, weeding and watering every few days. Abby enjoys dipping her watering can in her kiddie pool and watering the plants too. :) And there is SO much satisfaction when I look down from the back deck and see all those sweet little plants:

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one in my neighborhood who has a vegetable garden. I can see a few backyards of some of my neighbors and a few more as I drive out onto the main streets, but most are fenced in and/or just not in plain sight. My house sits on a corner lot where two streets come together, and it's not fenced, so anyone can see into my entire yard. Do they think I'm crazy for growing vegetables? Especially with this big baby belly?

I'm hoping to write a handful of posts about gardening topics, including:
  • The loss of "seasonal eating"
  • Hiding your garden in the backyard vs. a front yard edible landscape
  • Kids and gardening
  • Supermarket vs. farmers market vs. your own home market
  • The history of victory gardens
  • Community gardens

Do you grow your own vegetables? Do you live in the "city" or the country?

Linking up to:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Starting (somewhat) fresh

I enjoy blogging. I really do. Life just often gets in the way. :) Last night I was reading a book and found myself really wanting to share quotes from it, and expound on my thoughts about it.

So here we go (again).

This blog you are reading is actually a brand new blog. Don't let the archives on the sidebar fool you. I wanted to start somewhat fresh, so I started a new Blogger blog, but wanted to keep my old posts from my other two blogs. I was ecstatic to discover I could import my posts from both Did you hear the singers Roer? and

Did you hear the singers Roer? has been a place for me to just share things about life in and around my family. Almost a year ago, I joined a blogging community and online "class" that gave me one year of web hosting and my own domain name for free. I decided to see if I'd be able to create a niche blog that would generate a little bit of income -- at least enough to pay for the yearly hosting and domain name once the time for renewal came up. It was a ton of fun, but I didn't make a single dollar. So I've decided to allow that hosting and domain to expire, and have moved back over to Blogger (which is free!), and start somewhat fresh with a somewhat new blog.

I'll still write about the home, garden, and cooking like I did at, and I'll still write about my family and love for books and music like I did at Did you hear the singers Roer? So I invite anyone who knows me personally, as well as anyone interested in an almost-30-year-old, happily married, mom of almost-two kids, who desires to spend her days in the sweet sunshine and attempt to live the simple life, to follow my journey!

If you're new, take the time to check out my previous posts via the archives and labels in the sidebar. I hope you'll like what you see and decide to stick around. :)

Spend my days in the sweet sunshine
Rock in my swing and watch my garden grow
Know that I'll always have someone to hold
Oh I wanna live the simple life...
–”Simple Life” © 2004, Carolyn Dawn Johnson

photo courtesy of Custom0305

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