How I Started Growing Food….about 41 years ago

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

Good question, and it involves some history. First, my grandparents were farmers, and time spent at their beautiful farm in New England was like being in Vallhala for me. I enjoyed picking vegetables, shelling peas, and snapping beans with my grandmother. Somehow, the “germ” of self-sufficiency was passed on to me.


Once married, my first garden was on a rented property where we lived. I laid hay on the lawn, punched holes into the ground and transplanted tomatoes and other plants. It must have produced, because I enlarged it the next year…and every year after that for the next 25 years. We eventually tilled up half of our acre yard, putting in apples, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, herbs and vegetables. Canning and freezing became a part of my summers and falls. I knew I would never go back to a life without a garden, and along with Rodale’s “Organic Gardening”, and other writers of the 70’s, I began the journey of learning about plants, soils, insects and soil nutrients. I am basically self-taught, but by being a member of the Northeast Farming Association, I benefited from the wisdom of many people who were in the forefront of the organic movement.


Now, I still went to a grocery store, but I also belonged to a food co-op where the best food was available by pre-order. I was not 100% self-sufficient, but I was providing fresh, organically grown food in a way that saved money and increased the nutrition available for the family.


At the end of 25 years, we decided to move. The only criteria for our new home was land! We found an old dairy farm in northern New York, and bought 25 acres. Over 2 acres of it became garden. Now we were getting close! Truck loads of winter squash and pumpkins, bushels of potatoes, and onions and garlic. We never had to buy those things, and I had plenty to sell as well. But we were getting older, and after 13 years of working on and off of the farm, we headed back east to be closer to family. All this time, clean, nutritious food has been my underlying goal to everything I do.


Now, I find myself in a small town, on a village street, with less than 1/10th of an acre of land. I am turning my front yard into food producing raised beds, with medicinal herbs in between. It will not be able to supply even 50% of my vegetables but everything helps! I also work on an organic farm with a residential program for people with disabilities, so I grow garlic there, and have access to wonderful vegetables.


So, I am relearning intensive organic methods. This is my second summer here, and I plan to add small fruit, and potato barrels for next year. I would encourage everyone to grow as much as they can, even in an apartment. It is amazing and satisfying to grow delicious wheat grass for juicing, and fresh alfalfa sprouts. These are grown in my kitchen windows.


Here I am, having come almost full circle as far as gardening size, but still learning and adding to my skills. I support my local food producers, and I think that should things ever get really bad, my experience will be a barter-able skill. Not everyone can live a self-sufficient life, but we can all learn the necessary skills of sustainability. So goes the life cycle…

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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