Hi, I’m Erica and I’m an accidental garden writer. You know how people say things like, “Don’t worry about a job, just follow your bliss,” and you think, “Wow, I’m gonna need more coffee before I can handle that level of spiritual enlightenment.”
Well, I never decided to follow my bliss, but I managed to stumble face-first into it anyway. I’ve always liked writing, but I’ve also always liked cooking (so much so that I cooked professionally for many years) and, about a decade ago, I discovered I really liked growing vegetables.
In January of 2011, I put all those things together and started writing about what I do: all that hipster homesteading stuff like urban gardening and backyard chickens and cooking and canning and DIY projects and natural living and frugality.
I wasn’t actually trying to be a writer. I was a secret hippie in the suburbs. You know the type: looks perfectly normal in the preschool pick-up line, but is always in the garden or canning something or letting their kids run around without pants. I was sitting on the couch (again) and nursing my infant son (again) and I was making my garden plan for the year.
I thought maybe other people might want to know what I had learned about when to plant veggies in the Seattle area, so I started typing one-handed (the nursing, you know) and this blog was born. Some people read it, one thing led to another, and now I’m an actual garden writer. No one is more surprised than me.
For about a decade, year-by-year and bit-by-bit, my husband and I, with some help from – and despite an equal amount of thwarting by – the kids, have been working to convert our suburban lawn into a suburban homestead. You name it, we probably grow it – fresh raspberries, green beans, blueberries, brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, basil, delicata squash, baby tomatoes.
What I can’t cook fresh I preserve – canning, pickling, drying and freezing stocks the larder for leaner months. I geek out on soil quality and push myself to have something harvestable 12-months-a-year. A freshly laid, warm egg from one of our backyard hens is like a little present. Chicken poop is, less romantically, the nutrient-rich gift that keeps on giving.
To me, this stuff is all connected. The garden gives us produce and the scraps get fed to the chickens and the chickens give us eggs and make us compost and the compost feeds the garden which gives us produce.
This is the key I’ve discovered to making productive homekeeping work: everything has to feed something else. In this way, a rhythm and a sustaining cycle gets established and the gardener becomes an orchestrator of bounty instead of a slave to endless chores.
I think about this stuff all the time – how to make a productive life work inside a typical, modern-American framework. How to grow food, keep hens, pick your battles, save money, make the biggest impact, and do more without going crazy from guilt or exhaustion. I work to learn and to explain how to strike the best balance in a life that’s a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll. This site is my primary and most personal outlet for those thoughts.
I’m not the only mom (or dad) crazy enough to try this. We are the new guard of domesticity, urban farmers, radical homemakers: we’re out there trying to grow a little food, live on a little less, have some fun. One stumbling step after the other, we are trying to grow our own bliss in the most hands-on way we can.
Thanks so much for joining in.
Resume-y Type Things
I have a book! It’s called The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving and Natural Homekeeping. It will be available everywhere books are sold on September 29, 2015. I wrote the book to help people shift their home from consumption to production, and detail many of the tips, tricks and organizational hacks I rely on to keep my own productive home running. You can find lots more information here: The Hands-On Home.
In 2012 my garden was photographed and I was interviewed for a book called Backyard Roots: Lessons on Living Local from 35 Urban Farmers by Lori Eanes. The book turned out great, and I’m not just saying that because I’m in it!
In 2013, one of my most popular blog posts, The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater, was picked up for publication in the prestigious Best Food Writing compilation series and is now in print alongside the words of folks like Micheal Pollan and Gabrielle Hamilton. It was one of the more surreally proud moments of my life.
Periodically I talk to groups about growing, cooking, and DIY shenanigans. I’ve botanically edu-tained groups from small garden clubs to large audiences at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. If you are interested in booking me to talk to your group, please get in touch. Fair warning: I charge actual money if I have to put on real pants and leave my house.
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