I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.


Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.


I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.
Fields of Plenty

I'm half in love with Michael Ableman. Really. What a neat person, a human being who has found his niche, his passion and has made a life and career from it. I admire that more than I can express. I think most of us just settle, we find a place in which we grow comfortable, enjoy the income, become dependent on it due to outside responsibilities (i.e. children) and lose our way, lose our passion. And we make excuses for settling and then we stumble across someone who hasn't and we make even more excuses for why it worked out for that person, how they got "lucky" and how it is too late for us to re-route ourselves into a life and a career that are more in tune with our passions.

(In my opinion) To compound the problem, our society is very divided into those who are college bound and those who are not. Vocations that do not require a college degree should be given the same respect and acceptance. Yes, college provides a higher platform of disciplined learning but ultimately, the gift of education and true learning can come from anywhere - YOUR LOCAL FREE LIBRARY - albeit you will learn without acknowledgement of it in a professional sense. What is so funny to me about this is that I've learned more and am more passionate about learning now that I am out of structured education. I know many people who have been content to just stop once they have their coveted degree in hand. Education has been reduced to a means to an end - an adequate paycheck. It isn't that I don't agree with being able to financially support yourself and your family - I do. I just hate that education has been so tied to this goal and that once the desired paycheck is achieved the value of additional education, in any form, plummets. As this tangent suggests, I feel strongly about the weaknesses of our current educational system in our country. It isn't terrible by any stretch but it could certainly be better at really helping children fall in love with learning, to not think it is a total chore, to not think that there is a defined end goal in regards to education as a whole (grade 12 or college degree are typical). Michael Ableman is one of those people who seems to be the exception to the rule, who has clearly continued to learn about gardening, something he is passionate about. He probably did the college degree route (I don't really know) but his career has been a process of continual learning and on the job training. He has traveled extensively to learn about world-wide small farming practices, he has tried new things in his own gardens, he has written and shared his knowledge in such a way to inspire other people. He is a farmer, a small organic farmer to be exact, and an educator about the viability and necessity of urban farming.

I devoured On Good Land and after I was finished I searched my library database for any other material related to his projects or books that he authored. I found Fields of Plenty: A Farmer's Journey In Search Of Real Food And The People Who Grow It, and it is chock full of beautiful photographs of other small farms and farmers, pieces of writing discussing those farms and recipes that he has particularly enjoyed. These people, following their passion as they grow and nurture organic and tasty food for our bellies to consume, are inspirational to me. I also found a video about Fairview Gardens, an urban farm on which he built his career. I am very much looking forward to viewing it as I enjoyed his book about Fairview Gardens so much.

I remember when I was a teenager never once being interested in helping my mother out in her garden. I didn't care about the plant names, the weeds, what needed to be transplanted, dug up and divided and so on. And she asked for help every once in a while because she probably just needed a helping hand. And I never willingly helped. She had a compost system, a beautiful enclosed small garden that was just full of gorgeous plants with a patio and the expected chaise lounger and patio set and I didn't enjoy it or learn from her as I should have when I had the opportunity to do so. It is funny to me looking back on what I liked and thought then to now, 12 years later, being passionate about gardening, urban homesteading, learning useful life skills like sewing, knitting and preserving food because I think it is priceless knowledge that is handy and purposeful and enriches my life. Thank goodness that I had a parent who did encourage reading broadly, experiencing new things and who didn't push me to achieve the standard educational goals via structured higher education. I am a better and more learned person because of her influence and support. I am in love with plants today because I wasn't forced to learn about them when I was 18. Some day I may decide to finish my college degree, to study in a field that I am intensely curious about, but for now I'll stick with the library and hands on learning in my yard, in my kitchen, with my children as they explore and discover the world around them. For now that is enough. And as for Michael Ableman, I will flip through his beautiful books from time to time to once again spark my enthusiasm for organic gardening, fresh produce and eating locally because his love and passion for his life's work is so very contagious.




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