How many years have you been gardening?
I have always had a garden- growing up we helped my parents put up food for the winter -frozen corn, string beans and canned tomatoes, pickles and jellies to get a family of 6 through the winter in New Jersey. We also canned peaches- luscious Jersey peaches! Raised chickens for meat and eggs and bought a grass-fed cow from my grandfather every year and transported it back to NJ in wrapped frozen form around Thanksgiving or so. It would stay frozen for the 8-hour drive in the back of the station wagon. Gardening and putting up food was a family affair- people thought we were odd but you got used to that. Doesn't seem so odd to people anymore!
What are you growing?
I am growing strawberries to sell this year.
What farming practices do you use and why?
We always farmed with horse and chicken manure and compost. Not much else for soil amendments but my dad might have done more than that, I just didn't know about it. We always had Rodale Organic Gardening and Prevention Magazines in the house back before they were glossy and full of advertisements. Along with those magazines my parents gardened the way they learned as kids and I've pretty much done the same except for now it is so much easier to find new ways to make the most of your gardening situation. I use the same common-sense style of gardening my parents did… I lived with my Gramp for a couple of years when I first moved to Maine on my own and he had really mellowed- i.e. gone organic although he would never call it that! I grow organically in that I don't use pesticides.
What inspires you to farm?
I garden to keep my family healthy. I also do it to stay connected to my past. My father used to tell us that was why he did it too. Stories always went with the garden. I do it for another reason that he gardened, too. He wanted us to know self-sufficiency and to appreciate the dignity of physical labor. It can't be all head- you have to balance with the body - and gardening does that and I want my children to understand that. There is nothing wrong with sweat! A hot sultry New Jersey day will forever be etched in my head- my self and my 4 younger siblings were weeding a patch of something, all grumbling about revolt and how it was so unjust that were out in that heat when all of a sudden he said- "Quick-stand up!" So we did-expecting something… and he just said, "Feel that breeze?! You wouldn't have noticed it if you weren't out here working!" And he was right, and I never forgot, and every summer at least once I repeat that story to my boys- so they know the Grandpa they never met through our garden! In a sentence- my food is the way I live my life and anyone is welcome to ask me about it!