When I’m Not Working…

June 28, 2018

It all started with a small plot in a community garden.  When I harvested my first bell pepper, I was hooked.  After a few years bending over two planter boxes at ground level, I decided to “straighten up.”  Literally, I wanted to stand up while I worked in my vegetable garden.  With the help of Farmer D, we designed and built a “Beds On Legs” organic micro-farm at our weekend home in Palmetto Bluff.  Four years and eight planting seasons later, I’m still hooked, and enjoying fresh produce year-round.

All of the beds in the interior of the garden are built at counter-height.  The deeper boxes around the periphery have a wide edge that allows me to sit while I till, plant, and harvest.  This Spring/ Summer season has produced delicious corn, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, squash, peppers, okra, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, edamame, and a variety of fresh herbs.  Not a week goes by that we don’t eat from the garden!

I take care of “Mama J’s Micro Farm” on the weekends, and have a very talented farming “mentor” and partner who comes mid-week to prune, harvest, and make sure the pests aren’t running away with our produce.  We are 100% organic and use only Neem oil and other natural products to keep the aphids and other such creatures at bay.  Stacy has taught me everything I know about organic farming.  She sources the seeds and soil and lays out our rotational planting plan each season.  We also compost.  The composted soil not only helps the plants grow more productively in the boxes, but from time to time vegetables will grow out of the compost box itself.  This season has given birth to a cross between butternut squash and zucchini growing right out of the compost bin!

Growing my own produce has also helped me become a more creative chef because I invent dishes around what comes out of the garden that week.  I love tending to my little vegetable garden.  In addition to the tremendous satisfaction of growing food from the ground up, it has given me a profound appreciation for all the farmers across America (and the world) who grow our daily food.