It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I started getting into gardening through my love for herbs, going to the California School of Herbal Studies in the early 80s. We harvested wild greens, and even sold them to restaurants that were just discovering alternative possibilities. I developed an early love for California native plants, and learned so much about how and why they thrived in their natural habitat. I loved creating multi-course meals with wild greens (this was before I got so lazy).
Fast forward to more recently, after way too much work indoors. I had been laid off from my job as a designer for an internet company that tanked during the bust. I started working at a community garden down the street, and In 2003, while working freelance, I took a class that changed my life, and made me much more aware of some of the challenges facing our earth and soil and our relationship to our food.
Funded by the city of SF, It was called Gardening and Composting Educator Training Program, but it entailed much more. Food Security, water recycling, following our food to the dump, native plant restoration, and environmental justice were some of the themes we explored. I worked extensively (200+ hours) with a school in the projects, establishing a garden, and teaching kids about habitat and nourishment. I also taught composting and herb classes locally.
Immediately after that, I took a course called Indigenous Permaculture which elaborated on many of the same themes with a different approach. I will never forget some of the teachings from elders from indigenous cultures. I got my permaculture design certificate, planning systems for another elementary school.
I was interested in going into garden education, but then my life changed radically. My 82-year-old mother had her third stroke in 2003, divorced her husband, and moved to SF to be near me. After her stroke, she had no use of her left side and required extensive rehabilitation. I became responsible for her well-being. At the same time, I started working on a website for a documentary series, work that was rewarding and aligned with my values.
But my gardening projects suffered. I slowed down and then stopped working in the community garden that I loved so much, stopped volunteering in the schools. As my work and caretaking responsibilities grew, I became much lazier about the garden in my backyard, until I was overwhelmed by how much there was to do. But somehow, the fruit trees kept on growing, plants that I had forgotten about reared their heads again, and the garden kept on.
One day I was working on a website for a movie about dirt, and was looking for composting images. I wound up going into the backyard and taking my own pictures, because there just wasn’t that much out there. I was also able to add some tips gleaned from my real-life experience with composting.
I decided to create this blog, for those of us who want to compost, but just don’t have that much time and energy. I’m also starting it for a selfish reason: to keep me connected to the garden and to the soil. I’m hoping it will be a bit of a hodgepodge, just like my compost pile. Hopefully I can include gardening info and observations; food, food and more food; some earth activism; and herb lore to the pile. I hope that we can learn from each other’s shortcuts, mistakes and epiphanies.
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