Yes, carrots do grow in the ground

I know things have been a little slow on the blog updating lately and I do apologize. I do have lots to post about, soon enough, but there are some things going on that have me a bit distracted. A very long post is coming soon…

However, in the spirit of the spring and the near launch of the growing season (don’t let that freak snow out there fool you, or get you down), I thought I’d pass along a book recommendation.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

My friend Alice has been raving about this book for months, and she finally finished it and passed it on to me (Alice is fantastic for sharing her favourite books). I have only just cracked into it; I’m literally only past the first few pages, but it already has me sucked in. I think the timing is perfect for me and this book, since I’m about to embark on my own adventure freaking out the neighbours with my little farm plot on the front lawn.

The book is a non-fiction telling of Kingsolver and her family’s deliberate move from what I like to refer to as a “depletist” existence (thanks OCAD Think Tank students, you guys rock!) in Tuscon, Arizona to a farm in Virginia where they resolve to live for a year growing and raising their own food, and should they need to buy food, buying only that which is grown on neighouring farms:

“This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air.”

The book’s website also contains many recipes and additional local food resources.

One of the most resounding ideas that Kingsolver has laid out in the beginning of the book is just how separated our society has become from even the remotest of understandings of the life of our food. This idea in and of itself is not new of course, but the examples she gives are mind blowing (a boy exclaiming in disbelief the first time he saw a carrot come out of the ground, that it had touched the dirt, and crying, “but how did it get in there?”). She discusses the idea of how unless you grew up on a farm, you likely have little to no understanding of the importance of rain at the right times of year, in the right amounts, when at what times of year you don’t want it. For me, this is the common sense I grew up with that is now not so common. It makes me sad to think too that my own kids, when and if I have them, will likely grow up lacking this breadth and depth of knowledge that I now take for granted. Even if I make every attempt to pass it along, just by virtue of growing up in an urban environment it just won’t be the same.

As for my own garden adventures, the tomato seedlings are already quite robust and will soon need to be repotted, and the peppers have nearly all poked through. We managed to cut and sand the wood for the raised beds on Saturday, and on Sunday I took advantage of the sunshine and put a coat of stain/sealer on them. Next step is assembly, then a second coat of sealer. Chris has also decided we should spend the extra cash on putting a layer of “foundation wrap” — that dimpled plastic stuff the put outside concrete foundations as a moisture barrier — on the inside of the frame to help prolong the life of the wood by allowing for some air circulation and drainage. While I can be a bit of a purist and don’t like the idea of the plastic, nor the added cost, it probably is a good idea for us to do it. We didn’t invest in cedar, and of course we didn’t use pressure treated lumber, so we might as well try to do as much as we can to protect the investment we did make.


  1. Kristin says:

    And potatoes have green parts!

    I loved this book. I think it is my favourite food book because it is such an inspiration. Enjoy!

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