When Adam and I first said "I do" and moved to Ann Arbor in 2007, we heard about a local community garden project with available land for rent, and we signed up. That first year the weeds grew higher than the plants, but-- to my total amazement-- delicious vegetables hid in that jungle and made their way onto our plates.
That winter I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I fell in love with the idea of growing our family's food and eating locally. I poured over seed catalogs and fell in love with the names of beans grown by Seed Savers. Armed with one trusty garden reference book, I seeded a flat of tomatoes in the windowsill and faithfully woke up 15 minutes early to water them with a turkey baster every morning before my hospital shift. I planted out our second season plot that spring and made friends with mulch. Everything grew! Tomatoes took over our kitchen in August.
Over the next decade I grew food as a hobby and worked professionally as a registered nurse at both St. Joe's Hospital and Michigan Medicine. This work of care-taking fit my personality and skillset well, and the opportunity to live out the values of empathy, compassion, and service to others brought a great sense of purpose to each day.
But when the daffodils bloomed in 2012, our daughter was born. Our lives changed in ways large and small. Her birth brought me home to our community, to building deeper relationships and spending time outdoors. Her delight in the worms, weeds, and wind brought great joy and wonder for me, and made me look for new opportunities to share gardening with children and adults.
When our son began preschool, I started the adventure toward doing the work I love, committing to farming as a sustainable venture to steward the land and build community around local food. I am grateful to join the movement to care for the earth and each other by growing produce sustainably.
In 2017 we planted our garlic crop on a beautiful farm northeast of Ann Arbor, Michigan. We were blessed with a great set of farming mentors who advised us on cultural practices and many aspects of family farming. Since 2009 their land has been farmed using organic practices. In the garlic fields, there is a four-year crop rotation to discourage pests and disease. Cover crops were planted on the fields to increase nutrient content, retain moisture, reduce weed pressure, add organic matter to the soil, and reduce soil erosion.
One of the joys of buying our own farmland in 2018 is the opportunity to become long-term stewards of the soil. We can create habitat for an abundance of biodiversity-- bees, monarchs, snakes, birds, toads, turtles, and earthworms everywhere. We can add important infrastructure to extend our growing season.
We consider ourselves to be caretakers of the soil first. If we do this most important job right, the produce we grow will be beautiful-- productive, nutritious, and more resistant to pests and disease.