Thursday, March 31, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

This posting is illustrated with photographs from my 2010 kitchen garden
Like many of you, my dear gardening friends, I try to "contribute to a greener world" through sustainable gardening practices: I make compost, limit chemical pesticides and fertilizers, encourage pest predators, collect rain water, reduce the lawn area, remove invasive plants (a never-ending battle with multiflora), and attempt to restore native plant communities. In honor of last year's Earth Day, I wrote about each of these practices in a posting I called, "What is Sustainable Gardening?" You can read it here. In her inspiring book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver takes sustainability to another level. 
Barbara Kingsolver, her husband and two children moved from Arizona to a Virginia farm in the Appalachian mountains near her childhood home. They vowed to buy food grown locally, grow it themselves, or do without ...
"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." Barbara Kingsolver
Before World War II, most of us ate seasonal, local foods all year round. In winter, we ate the foods we had preserved. Now, we buy our foods at the supermarket, and we are accustomed to purchasing produce out of season. By the time foods arrive on the supermarket shelves, therefore, we have used an enormous amount of fossil fuels -- in growing, transporting, refrigerating, milling, and processing. We take for granted that no community sustains itself locally any more.

This easy-to-read book is a family project with contributions by Kingsolver's husband and their college-student daughter. Their third-grader, while not contributing to the book, takes full part in the project by selling eggs and poultry.

The book, written with great humor, is not a "how-to", it is not preachy, but it inspires me to be more mindful of my carbon footprint by eating locally grown foods that are in season, and by supporting local farmers. I am planning my vegetable garden with a different goal this year. H.H. is researching what our local farmers and butchers grow and supply, and we plan on visiting the local farmers' markets regularly this summer. I am hoping to increase the amount of produce I preserve for winter consumption. While I know we will not reach Kingsolver's level of sustainability, I am encouraged by her husband's comment,
"If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That's not gallons, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast. Steven L. Hopp
This family are wonderful gardeners, farmers, and cooks, and I learned a lot. (Who knew how butterball turkeys reproduce?) There are some great recipes at the end of each chapter. I could say much, much more about this book; I don't feel I am doing it justice here, but maybe some of you will be encouraged to read it for yourselves. See below for your chance to win a copy.

This posting is my entry for the 2nd Annual Gardeners' Sustainable Living Project, hosted by Jan at Thanks For Today in honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2011.   **Leave a comment on Jan's sustainable living blog here for a chance to win this book -- I am happy to donate a copy.**  Also, you can click on the icon in my sidebar for more information.


It was fun looking back at last years veggie garden pictures ... I am looking forward to starting my new garden soon. Thanks again for all your good wishes. I continue to heal and will be ready to start planting -- if ever this snow goes away. There is a monster storm forecast for tonight.


Love,
Pamela x



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28 comments:

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

Hey Pam,
Your kitchen and veggie gardens are so inspirational. The photos just make me want to get out there and do the same things here (unfortunately I have way too many trees!). I have heard of Kingsolver's book but have not read it. You have definitely created a desire on my part to get it. I am going to do some kitchen gardening in containers on my deck and hope I have better luck than last year. I just don't get enough sun, which is pretty much a necessity! Good luck with your seeds and with the weather, too. It's been cold here, as well! No snow at this point, but 30's at night and very damp, rainy and cold weather for the past couple of weeks! Thanks for joining again and best wishes on your continued healing! Jan

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

Pam, this is a wonderful kitchen garden, both beautiful and productive. It is so true about shipping in food and how little is grown for personal consumption in home gardens anymore. The garden you saw on my blog, (thanks for visiting) today is putting in a childrens learning/teaching vegetable garden. And it is for the reason to encourage intercity kids to see the environmental cost involved with food grown that is not regional. They also will experience fresh picked produce too. It is a wonderful project, that when it is completed, i will post about it.

One said...

Hi Pam, Thank you for the meaningful post and a great reminder too. I think many of us are going the same direction at our own pace. You have some beautiful beds and flowers.

One said...

Btw, Pam, I've just added your wonderful blog to my side bar. Have a great weekend!

Elephant's Eye said...

Again you remind me, to move this book from my want list, to my read list.

Jo said...

The book sounds really interesting. I think once you start growing some of your own food then you start to question what you're buying in the supermarket. I try to buy food with is in season and visit and buy from more farm shops rather than supermarkets now. Hope your snow disappears soon so that you can get on with some sowing.

FlowerLady said...

Wow, what gorgeous beds and so inspiring too.

FlowerLady

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Thank you for this inspiring post and your very healthy kitchen garden is so inspiring as well. I hope I can create a very healthy kitchen garden like you for my family.

Carolyn ♥ said...

There's nothing like the taste of fresh grown produce... unless it's that very same produce that's been preserved to last the Winter. With most of my children now grown, I don't do as much, but we sure enjoy the taste of summer in our delicious raspberry jam we pick from the freezer during the Winter months. Excellent post, Pam, I will look for that book, it sounds like a winner.

Jan@Thanks for today. said...

Thank you for so generously offering to donate such a wonderful gift to my sustainable living giveaway, Pam! Animal,Vegetable, Miracle is on my 'to read' list---and now some lucky gardener can win it too;-) You're the best!

Karen said...

Hello Pam, what a great post. I will have to search out this book to read. I'm glad you are feeling better day by day and hope the snow predictions are incorrect. Have a wonderful weekend!

Masha said...

Thank you for telling us about this book. I have been eager to eat more locally raised meat but haven't found a way yet. Veggies and fruit are much less of a problem here in California...

gippslandgardener said...

Hi Pam - what an inspiring post! I'll have to see if we can get that book here too. I've only taken my first little steps with vege gardening over the last year or so, but would like to be able to feed my little family more from the garden, so will continue to work on it.
I only just caught up on your last post too - I am very glad to hear that you are recovering well, that's brilliant news! I must admit though, those pictures made me shiver!

Jayne said...

Your veggie gardens look wonderful. I'd love to plant a garden here, but have been stumped as to how to work around trees, utility easements, slopes, sprinklers etc. I'll figure it out one day though, I'm determined!

Donna said...

this book is moving to my reading pile once I get it...I am inspired by you Pam and Barbara...it may take some convincing for my husband but I think we can do at least one meal and go from there...baby steps

Daphne said...

Wonderful post, Pam, really interesting!

I'd read a few of Kingsolver's fiction books (and enjoyed them!) but not this one--sounds like something I need to pick-up next time I'm at the library...

Your photos are so lovely--love the picket fence around your vegetables, and the view of your farmhouse from your garden is fabulous!

Barbara said...

Hi Pam, the subject of the book you feature is so topical now with Fukushima - which should be a wake-up call to everyone on how important it is to save energy and not become dependent on life-threatening technologies or limited oil/gas reserves. Great post. Barbara

Barbara said...

P.S. - I love your kitchen garden.

Marguerite said...

I've previously read this author's novels and she always seems to reference gardens and nature in them so I shouldn't be surprised to hear that she's now written a garden book. Can't wait to give this a read, thanks for writing about it and showing us a glimpse of your own garden.

HolleyGarden said...

Pam, this is a great post. I have heard a lot about this book, but have not read it. However, due to your review, I am putting it at the top of my list to get. Hope spring comes to you soon!

Lori E said...

I can't wait to pour through more of your garden. In a bit of a rush right now but saw your name on another blog's comments and came by to have a look.
As fellow "English" and one who loves to garden I had to sign up to follow you.

Sunray Gardening said...

Love your gardens and your shed is setup wonderfully. Am following you no to watch this year.
Cher
Goldenray Yorkies

Lori E said...

Thanks so much for signing up to follow my blog. I have your name and blog link running across the marquee sign at the top of my page.

The Sage Butterfly said...

You have done so much to create the perfect kitchen garden. It is organized, beautiful, and so very functional.

teresa said...

Nice Post Pam, I always enjoy hearing and seeing your gardens.

Jess said...

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was a very inspirational book for me too, and as a matter of fact, it has been a few years, I might just have to revisit. The farmer's market starts up here very soon and I'm going to try for a lot more than one meal per week from the bounty I find there. Great post!

Teresa O said...

Hurrah!! This is my most passionate belief when it comes to green living. If we embrace the locavore movement not only do we decrease our carbon footprint, but we eat so much better.

Loved this post and want that book!

Rosey said...

I loved seeing your veggie gardens. They are so organized and well laid out. Hope you are able to get out and enjoy spring weather.