A Pumpkin, or a Philosophy?

Its both, really.

This blog has been a long time in the making…well, long as far as my life goes, where every day can seem simultaneously quick as lightning, and long as a marathon.

I’m a woman, wife, mom, writer, homeschool teacher, home-business-owner – and local foods afficionado. What’s more, I strive to grow and preserve some of my own goods. I also do wacky things like save the mesh bags from my onions and make pot-scrubbies out of ’em, and spend at least a weekend each month trying to devise the best way to recycle every scrap of paper that comes through my house, or make up a new way to clean my chicken coop without having to smell it so much until the fresh cedar shavings are layed down.

So, this leaves precious little time to photograph my life and write about it.

But, try as I might, I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. When writer and friend, Roxane Salonen interviewed me for an article on local foods, and then I heard about (what I think is) the 8th Annual Dakota Grown Local Foods conference (and they welcomed bloggers to come and broadcast all this loveliness to the wider audience who wasn’t able to join us in persona locale) — this was just the proverbial ‘kick in the pantaloons’ I needed to sit down and give the world a window to what is possible. In their own backyard. In about a 100 mile radius of their home.

And it all began with a pumpkin. Yes – the pumpkin you see above.

I accidentally grew it.

You might think that makes me a really great gardener. Not so. I’m average on a good day. Though I do read a lot of books, and can readily tell you facts, stats, and methods (all of which I haven’t tried) to grow amazing veggies and fruits. I’m one of those gentlewoman farmers that is talkative enough to sound like I Know What I’m Doing. But, I have a green heart.

Truly, it is the persistence, the stick-to-it-iveness, and the love I have for people first, and growing things second, that gives me the passion to boldly blog where relatively few have gone before me.

But back to the pumpkin. It grew out of my lovely open compost bin in the backyard. It was  the fruit of a pumpkin pie gone by. It grew, vine-y and wonderful, out of the bin, and I let it go for awhile, thinking it might be a cucumber plant (last year all my cucumbers croaked. It was a bad year for pickles). Then it started getting squash-y green tendrils, and climbing up the side of the bin. It hung off the edge, and kept going – past my asparagus, past my raised bed of various lettuces, past the horseradish that spreads like nothing-else-I’ve-ever-seen-and-I-really-wished-I-would-have-put–somewhere-else-because-they’re-stuck-there-for-life-as-those-plants-are-just-impossible-to-move. Then, it started setting “a” fruit. Yes, one. One perfect pumpkin, and because it was hanging off the side of the bin, not all squash-ed (har har) on the ground — an almost perfectly round punkin’.

The kind of pumpkin *I* couldn’t have grown if I tried, but that grew because of the promise held within one little seed, cared for the first time around so well that the life within it was sustained throughout the terrible winter, and could spring forth, out of what some visitors to my backyard would call a stinking pile of rotting food, but which I know will ensure the soil in my backyard is going to yield awesomeness in veggie crunchability — the kind of pumpkin that would make a good jack o’lantern, but because  I was so proud of its rotundity  I didn’t dare cut into it, until finally I feared I’d better not let it just  rot, so I roasted it, and pureed it, and made Christmas gifts with it (pumpkin butter).

The pumpkin is a metaphor for life. The best things often come out of somewhere no one expects, out of something no one else thinks is worth much. It happens organically, in the truest sense of the word. It starts small, takes twists and turns, and then, surprisingly, sometimes where you think there’s no hope – it produces fruit in the end – fruit that lasts. That is where I see local foods coming into the horizon. We’ve *done* agribusiness – its not working. Not for people, not for the land. We’ve heard about how bad chemicals and pesticides are for people – the people who work with them, we who ingest them, not to mention the land that is meant to sustain us. We’re hungry for real change – change that is good for people at its heart, and then next is good for the earth we’re meant to care for and steward.

I saved some seeds from my Accidental Pumpkin, which I do intend to plant this year, so it can continue to live on in my yard, and in my life.

My life is a lot of things, and what I intend to chronicle on this blog is the lost and found. Lost arts like canning, freezing, dehydrating, baking, cooking. Found things like local foods and flavors, farmers, and things I can forage for, literally in my backyard. Topics like distributism, lacto-fermentation, and the benefits of making your own laundry detergent. People like local farmers, to G.K. Chesterton, to Wendell Berry, to Pope Benedict XVI.

I’m kicking it off with getting you the best notes, from a wife-woman -mom–family perspective, at the Dakota Grown Local Foods Conference, 2012. Please read along, subscribe to future posts, and enjoy all the wackiness that will ensure. Some of you might be inspired to make dandelion jelly. Some will laugh at the projects I tried that totally flopped. Some will think I’m a total Froot Loop – but let me assure you, the fruit is local, if at all possible.

Thank you for accidentally discovering this blog. Please, follow along for more happy accidents.

Enjoy the article that appeared on the Forum on Feb 2, 2010 here – again, thank you, Roxane, for your skill and word-smither-y!

 

Also, check-in with the homepage of the ND Dept. of Agriculture, where the other bloggers covering the Local Foods conference are all listed. Super-duper-psyched to meet up with others in the area who are passionate about all of this!

http://www.nd.gov/ndda/

 

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