Coming Full Circle

This is an entry in this month’s contest “What Inspired You To Start Growing Your Own Food?”.  Be sure to rate this article!

I think it started at the age of 11 and my grandmother’s “never ending bowl of beans”. I was raised mainly near my Italian city grandmother in Chicago, but at the age of 11, I spent a summer with my father’s parents in the mountains of Kentucky. My grandparents were just “poor folk” from the Appalachia and didn’t even have running water.

The house sat at the base of a mountain that had a beautiful babbling brook running in the front. That summer of “74” I learned to “break beans”. I sat on the porch swing in the heat of summer when my grandmother handed me a great big bowl of green beans and instructions on stringing and breaking them. I hour later I called to my grandmother excited because I was done!

Hurrying outside to see she exclaimed “that is great” and 2 minutes later refilled my bowl. I was aghast and this went on all day. That summer I learned all about the reality of living off the land. We grew our veggies, ate some and then canned the rest. We raised the chickens and pigs for eggs and meat. We hung laundry on the line after washing with her wringer washing machine (washing was an all-day chore). Grandpa would heat water over an open fire and I took a bath in a metal wash tub in the smoke house.

That summer we gathered black walnuts, wild blackberries and raspberries, which grew all over the mountain, making pies and jams. We canned sauerkraut, green beans, and tomatoes among other things. That summer of “74” never left my memory and it seemed to be what I wanted, what was buried in my soul, but was just out of reach. Growing up in the city of Chicago I always knew I didn’t really fit with the city life. I never enjoyed all the crowds, nightlife and noise. I went to college, became a RN, got married and started a family, bought our first home and worked a lot to maintain a lifestyle.

All the while I desired something different. I ended up after 11 years of marriage divorced and a single parent. I began moving south slowly. My first stop was Northern Indiana. After 8 years of being a single parent I remarried, 4 years later I became a widow at the age of 44. Started a business and got my kids through college while I continued moving further south.

I now live in central Indiana. I built my “green” eco-friendly home and found myself owning the acreage to have my little farm. I live near my parents on 4 acres and quit the rat race after selling my business. I have dedicated one acre to just my garden. I have an enclosed indoor green house and I am the mother of 24 Plymouth rock chickens for meat and eggs. I have a black walnut tree, and tons of black raspberry bushes and 3 apple trees.

I barter my food for my neighbor’s peaches. I can food, dehydrate and freeze food. I quilt, crotchet, and sew. I do all these things and with the help of my parents and my sister maintain our garden.

Our children are not interested in this lifestyle (yet) but as I keep my grandchildren on weekends I know I am feeding them good food, I watch them play and feed the chickens, knowing I am planting a seed of a lifestyle from the past. My grandchildren will learn from me how to grow their own food and I will show them a different way of life they can choose just like my grandparents showed me. Life for me has come full circle and I am loving every moment of growing a lot of my own food while I live a simpler life.

The prize for the winner of this months contest is valued at $100 and includes a copy of the “Grow Your Own Groceries” video set, “Alternatives To Dentists” video set, and 3 months of free membership in the Core Community.  If you want to enter this month’s contest, write an essay on “How You Got Started Growing Food” and submit it here at this link: http://growyourowngroceries.org/contribute-here/

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  • rosa says:

    Fabulous! I am also on this same journey. Not at the same point, but heading that way. You mention black walnuts. I have two huge ones and was considering cutting them down, as nothing will grow under/around them. I am in an urban setting so space is limited. Where would I find info on how to use black walnuts? Mine are so hard hitting them with a hammer doesn’t always break them and the nut is very small inside. I hate to cut them down.

  • Roberta Kelly says:

    I’m 65 and can so relate… I had a love/hate relationship with the lifestyle growing up. I was 12 before we moved to a place that had running water and we grew most all of our own food. We didn’t have chickens but grandma did and she had all the fruit trees. In the early 70’s when starting a family we bought some acreage and started doing the ‘living off the land’ thing then and converted the house to wood heat, added solar heating for house and water and a HUGE garden which I canned/froze a lot with my mom and sisters. Then life happened and just now getting back into it again after meeting someone with like interests.

  • Ted says:

    Wow, quite a story! I think many people are on the same path. I am on a similar life path, growing up in Brooklyn, moving to Jersey after marriage, and now (40 years or so later) in North Carolina. We have 6 beautiful acres with a pond. We are here less than a year but we did get a small garden in with squash, peppers, tomatoes and cukes. We want to be as “off-grid” as possible and have moved in that direction. At this point I think it will be a matter of survival.

  • John R says:

    Rosa or Roberta. Either of you ladies want to move to Ky and get married? Where are all the good ones, such as yourself?

    1. Hmm, maybe I should setup a dating service!

  • Donna Bruce says:

    I love her story and she did a marvelous job writing it. There are so many of us out here who desire to return to our beginnings, after growing up and away from it.

  • Kate says:

    This is so precious to me! I’m from northwest Indiana and lived in central Indiana for about 5 years as well. I’m so happy you are planting the seed in your grandchildren. Reading your story just makes me so happy. 🙂

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