Green ‘n Grown

Happy Summer Solstice!

When I launched the journey to my own bountiful crop-making, spring had not quite flung its way from April’s persistent chilly rains and plunging temperatures. That was also when I decided to finally carry out a whim that I’ve imagined for several years since learning about the “SquareFootGardening” (SFG) movement. Based on a simple gardening system devised by Mel Bartholomew, (SFG) offers even the most inexperienced aspiring green-thumber like myself, a setup that requires minimum space and effort. Yet the savings in maintenance and energy is comparatively 60% less than required of a traditional garden and the produce yield is potentially 100% of the harvest. (See: As a not-for-profit foundation (SFG) generates humanitarian projects that are helping to feed the world!

By the end of my first day, I’d set up and filled my cedar-box frame with an organic soil mix that smelled sweet enough to eat. After encouraging chats with my friend Maike, whose flora and planting knowledge is enviable, and visits to a local nursery for seeds and “starter” plants, I was soon enough spooning in seeds and water as guided. Over the weeks of plentiful rainfall, (yet not enough rainfall for much of the planet!) it has been gratifying to gaze into a set of 16 square-foot spaces that have, astonishingly, produced an assortment of herbs, collard greens, lettuces, onions, red peppers and cucumbers.

Prior to this outstanding feat, I could hardly be counted on for regular waterings of our house plants!

Although I know a good deal about any number of both useful facts and esoteric concepts, I have little formal training in gardening, none in farming, or any knowledge of the ways in which produce arrives to our markets, restaurants and tables, beyond the average consumer. Like many of you over the years, I have also become obsessed with HGTV and Food Network and the seeming endless chef and food culture shows that entice our palates. Admittedly, I’m entirely intimidated by “the mechanics” used to navigate these worlds – I mean, when’s the last time you studied the ph composition of soil or how to balance too much acidity in your salad dressing?

Rediscovering the distance to delicious…

On this new learning journey, I’m simply in search of what tastes good and has been grown with intention from local sources. “Grown” in this instance, applies as much to our relationships to foods and perhaps more to integrative and fertile life practices that keep us healthy.

Nearly three years ago, (and with terrific sadness) I said heartfelt goodbyes to my beloved Brooklyn and relocated to the quaint backdrop of sister towns, South Orange and Maplewood (SO-M) New Jersey. For a couple of months at least, I posted S-O-S messages that exclaimed my homesickness for Brooklyn and the diverse local food sourcing movement that was exploding in “hip” and “trendy” cafes, farmer markets, and restaurants from Bed-Stuy to Williamsburg.

Expanding the human palate…

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastating impact last fall, “the Garden State” was repositioned for a scrutiny, which despite the entanglements of politicos, reminded the world of it’s resilience, courage and terrific, local produce-ability. As the circle of life is ever-expanding, we are reminded that in opting to eliminate our conflicted impulses with the planet’s natural resources for more generous choices—in the considerations of natural gas, oil, water and conscious foods sourcing—we also expand our human palates. However my biggest gain in the move from an olive-sized Brooklyn apartment into a house, was a backyard. It’s not huge and sprawling, but it is ours for the growing of green things, foot-by-square-foot.

This site expects to celebrate the locally sourced farm and culinary movements, the politics of food and health, along with the folks whose businesses and practices in some way invoke curiosity and conversation on these topics from around the way, across the country and the globe.

Cheers, Pb


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