growing, cooking, eating, and thinking…
The Michigan climate and the soil in my garden constrain what I can grow. The needs of my family and the physical location define the limits of how far I can go with my research and my future job applications. Yet these boundaries are not necessarily constrictive. There are creative ways to stretch the season out: I harvested the last batch of this spinach in January and they will be ready to produce a second harvest in late March. All the building materials for the low tunnel have been recycled: from the soil – that comes from the compost bin- to the plastic cover, the bricks, and the wood for the raised bed.
I have recycled myself multiple times, changing jobs, identities and updating knowledge and skills to adapt to new environments. My research track followed my interests in food and was constrained by a situation that makes fieldwork away from home fairly complicated. At the same time, working on local food systems in my own locale is a meaningful choice on many levels. Doing research in the community I have become part of gives me entrance, and is the basis for creating longstanding human and professional connections.
Get the pail out, get the pail in. Prune, weed, clean. Turn the soil (gently, so not to disrupt the biome there). Plan, sow, transplant, weed. Harvest, cook, fill the pail again. Repeat. Gardening is about caring, and caring takes effort: relentlessly, daily. I have routines, I try to stick to them, so things can get done without the need to overthink. Does anybody realize the amount of knowledge, dedication, organization, and patience setting up and sticking to those routines requires? And at the end, who cares? It is a woman’s work.