Really being the gardener I write about being.

For the first time ever, I got a proper spring garden planted. I’m not at all sure why I’ve never been able to accomplish this in all my years gardening. Despite the fact that I get paid to offer unsolicited gardening advice to complete strangers in a some pretty magazines, I really am sort of a half ass lazy gardener. I am death to houseplants. I stick to perennials in my yard because once they are established, I don’t need to do anything for them on a regular basis. It’s a tough love style of gardening, where plants just have to get themselves established by mid-July, because that’s when I kinda start forgetting to water. Pat will catch up the slack on the vegetable garden and thankfully, begonias and geraniums do well with my summer neglect, so for all outward appearances, I pull off looking like a competent gardener. But, to be completely honest, I’m really not at all the gardener I write about being. When people have me to their gardens and want to talk gardening with me, I have to admit the only flower names I know are the ones I like and/or grow well. And vegetables? I stick to greens I know I do well (arugula) and things anyone can grow, like peppers. Growing okra and field peas last year was a bit step outside of my garden comfort zone.

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Tuesdays in the kitchen.

For several years now, my Tuesday afternoons have been spent in various school kitchens, teaching area middle schoolers to cook.  I began as a volunteer for one program, moved to another school with that program and am now back at the first school, Walker Upper Elementary, where I am now the lead on the after school cooking program. Continue reading

Something new.

New Roots Farm has a semi-regular stand at the city market that sells produce grown at the community garden sponsored by the International Resource Committee here in Charlottesville. The garden sprung out of wanting to help refugees feel at home as many of them have a farming background, while also giving refugees access to fresh food, particularly some harder to find items from their home. By selling some of the excess produce, refugees learn new skills and earn some income.  (Here’s a nice article that ran on them this past July) When I see their stand at market, I like to check out what they have to offer because it’s a good opportunity to try something new while also supporting a wonderful project. On a recent visit, this caught my eye:

squash

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A workshop with the master. And a festival!

IMG_6549 (1024x683)It almost escaped my attention that Sandor Katz was speaking at the Heritage Harvest Festival up at Monticello this past weekend.  Upon discovering this news, I immediately booked myself a spot in his morning workshop that was billed as a ‘premium workshop‘, meaning in addition to forking out money for a festival ticket, I shelled out money for the workshop as well.  I mention this because I pretty sure I haven’t paid to attend any sort of food or wine related event in a solid 15 years or so, with the last one I paid for also held up at Monticello – a canning and food preservation class (which yes, was THE class that began my canning odyssey), managing to get into all the events I’ve attended over the years for free. I found out later I probably could have finagled a free entry for this, but in the interest of karma, I figured it doesn’t hurt to actually pay for something once in a while. Continue reading