What's a Girl to Grow

Some kids dream of being sports stars; some dream of being famous actors or musicians; but when I was little, I wanted to be a farmer. At that time, I thought farming was a life you were born into and alas my parents weren't waking up a the crack of dawn to milk cows or plow the fields. I was fascinated by the Amish, who I viewed as living my dream. This was clearly before I knew about the Kilchers and homesteading.

In college I started a small garden at my parents' house. It was fairly successful, but after a year or two my little plot was reclaimed for flowers. When Chris and I moved to New Jersey shortly after we got married I had a tiny herb garden growing in a window box outside our 2nd floor apartment. I daydreamed about having our own house with a big back yard for gardening.

Last spring we purchased our first home, and from the minute I laid eyes on the backyard I knew I'd finally be able to have my garden.  I imagined our kids running in the backyard while I grabbed some herbs and vegetables for dinner; picking blueberries from our own bushes, and maybe even growing our own pumpkins. My father-in-law (Popsie) and I immediately began strategizing where to put the blueberries and how to configure the garden.

When we moved in, I was less than two weeks from having twins, and was already juggling a two year old and a laundry list of interior house projects. Laying out a garden and caring for it along with three children under three was magical thinking at best. Now that summer has faded into fall and we seem to have a routine, it's finally time to get our little farm together.

Chris and Popsie have been gathering materials and drafting plans to make this my dream garden. Right now, the garden will be 16'x16'. We'll have a summer and fall harvest. With tomatoes, peppers, string beans, zucchini, strawberries, cucumbers, pumpkins, acorn squash, potatoes, carrots, garlic and onions. Along the outer walls there will be big bushels of herbs: basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley, and lavender. Around the gate will be huge bunches of marigolds. At the back of the yard are the fruit trees: apples, pears, figs, cranberries and olives. Along the fence line running from the house to the far end of the yard will be the blueberry bushes.

We ordered the trees from Stark Bros. Orchards. It's the same orchard my father-in-law's parents bought their fruit trees from for their small farm in Doylestown, PA. In this way we are continuing the family tradition of tending the earth and getting closer to our food. (Maybe I wasn't born into a farming family, but perhaps I married into one?)

I can't wait to finish planting the trees and preparing the garden bed for next spring's inaugural crop.   Buying fresh, local ingredients has been a start, but growing our own food is the next step in our food journey. In anticipation I have been collecting recipes, researching food preservation and studying up on gardening.  So far I've made apple sauce, pickled cucumbers and peppers, and peanut butter.

There really is no greater satisfaction than growing, cooking, and baking your own food. Since we started this Feild to Farm adventure, we're enjoyed our food more and have been more conscious of finishing leftovers. It's clear the more time you put into your food, the less you waste.


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