On our honeymoon in 1999 we went to Rome. One day sightseeing we went to a Capuchin crypt… it was a hot day so the cool environment was soothing. Even though it was creepy walking past row after row of bones — one gallery had skulls, one gallery had femurs, etc. [These particular Capuchin monks had to be buried in soil from Jerusalem but they ran out so the resorted to “stacked bone art” instead.] At the end of the long, creepy gallery there was a small plaque that said:
As you are now, we once were. As we are now, you shall become.
Morbid but it stuck with me all these years. And what does this have to do with gardening you might ask? I’ll get to that in a moment.
I started “walking the garden path” in 2006 when we bought our “yard with a house attached to it” for the express purpose of being able to grow our own organic, heirloom garden which we installed in 2007 (that picture is me on the day the landscapers began the transformation of a patch of lawn into our garden paradise). This experience led me to creating this blog, TheYarden.com, ostensibly to find other food gardeners. But what I actually found was a lot of people who wanted to grow their own food but didn’t know how and, for the first time in my life, I felt that I had a gift (given to my by my father who taught me how to grow food) that I might be able to share. This has led to a life, and joy, I never expected.
This is the 11th season of The Yarden and so much has come out of it. I started blogging in 2008. Peterson Garden Project started in 2010. I became a board member for the American Community Gardening Association and an Illinois Extension Master Gardener in 2011. Peterson Garden Project expanded from one to five gardens in 2012 and began to receive awards and national recognition. I wrote my first book Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland (with Teresa Gale) and was noted as the “Best Urban Farmer in Chicago” in 2013. We expanded PGP to have a Community Cooking School and did a series of 52 Garden Minute videos in 2014. Wrote Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook in 2015… and, all the while, did all this work with a community of friends and True Believers who have been along for the ride for years, enjoyed meeting other gardeners, working with community partners, speaking nationwide and more.
Now here’s my “Capuchin moment” – when this all started I was a corporate wonk commuting 80% of the time. If I’d waited for the perfect circumstances, Peterson Garden Project would still be waiting, too. I love gardening. And I love the community of people who also love it. And I believe there are the seeds of power and revolution within us waiting to sprout. If YOU have an idea or a dream that you think can make a difference DO IT. Be afraid and do it anyway. Your dream matters… I can say this because I have a decade under my belt of doing what I love, joining forces with others of like mind and, together, making a big difference. YOU. CAN. DO. IT.
You’ll notice a pattern… something big every year. I have something up my sleeve for 2017 and beyond which I’ll tell you about in a few weeks. It involves gardening, food and communities of good people connecting and making the world a better place. Of course!
I’ve enjoyed walking the garden path. Thank you for walking it with me. There’s much ground to trod, and differences to make, in the years ahead…