I remember that when I was growing up, we’d take our grandmother’s lead and plant a sizable vegetable garden in the field behind our yard every year and enjoy a hearty harvest of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, carrots, sweet corn, red beets, squash and pumpkins. Items were picked when ready and delivered directly to the kitchen.
We didn’t live on a farm or in a rural area, yet for us and most of our neighbors, vegetable gardening was a normal part of everyday life. Watering and weeding was a daily routine in season, and early most springs, we’d go with dad to retrieve a truckload of fresh peat moss or composted manure and spread and mix it as we turned the soil with our pitchforks.
In addition to this natural fertilizer, intended to resupply nutrients to the soil, we were attentive to rotating the crops to a new row each year, ensuring the best balance of nutrients in the reused garden plot from year to year. The memory that stands out most so many years later is the sumptuous size, quality and taste of the yield we received without using synthetic chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
In our feature article this month, Jeff Moyer, of the Rodale Institute affirms, “It’s not only what you eat that’s important, but how what you eat was produced. Ultimately, our personal health is linked to the health of the soil.”
In a local article on page 31, Melissa Cipollone explains how PASA, the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture, has created the Soil Institute as the association’s initiative to advance the art and science of sustainable farming through education and research.
I haven’t had my own vegetable garden in years, but now more than ever, I value the importance of knowing how and where the food I eat is produced. I look for local organic growers and CSAs like Spiral Path Farm whenever I shop for produce. As you’ll learn in the spotlight on page 32, their nutrient-dense produce, grown in organic soil, is as close to or better than the vegetables we grew in my grandmother’s garden many years ago.
Grandma was a hard worker and a great cook, and I can attest that she lived by our Natural Awakenings motto well before its time…she reminded us frequently to feel good, live simply and laugh more.