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A Gardener Among Us

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

This year, gardening has taken root (excuse the pun) as a new hobby in my small household. Starting seedlings, building raised beds, and dreaming about sun-soaked afternoons filled with the smell of fresh earth and Rocky Mountain air now find some space in my day. I squish damp potting soil to fill pots and give small seeds a home. I prune the miniature shoots of basil and mint, in awe of the tempting scent created from the snapping of such tiny leaves. And the silent, meditative moments where I stare in amazement at our little farm springing up under a shop light are truly peaceful times during crazy, hectic days. This combination of doing, dreaming, and building has left me with no other choice than to resign a small part of my day solely to romanticizing the idea of being a gardener and cooking with food that I am responsible for growing.

Looking into the coming weeks and seeing high 60s and 70s on the horizon has given me a unique kind of excitement: The kind that only warmer days and nights with fewer forecasts for snow can bring. As the chance of frost lessens, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t see another early May storm. I am far more impatient than I’ll admit to here, but I’ll just say that I’m beyond looking forward to spending some quality time transplanting my seedlings into a newly defrosted backyard full of fresh soil and promise. And to think, all of the daydreaming, planning, and excitement started with a cookbook.

Tucked away in a quiet corner of an independent bookstore was Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories, by farmer and food blogger Susie Middleton. While the recipe headings struck me as involved and ambitious, I fell madly and deeply in love with the photos accompanying them. You could see the author’s love for growing and cooking food in every photo. I’m Italian, and these images stirred something in me about food that I hadn’t felt before. I had only held the book for a few short minutes but I was in deep. And so, the kitchen-garden fantasy took hold.

I love to cook. More than that, I love the process of cooking. Reading through a recipe and imagining how good it will taste. Selecting only the best vegetables, herbs, spices, and meat at the supermarket. The weight of your trusty chef’s knife in your palm and the ingredients on the cutting board, ready to be transformed into something new. The satisfaction you feel when the first bite is on your fork and your work has paid off with something aromatic and beautiful. Experiencing this same process with food I am able to grow and create leaves me nothing short of elated.

While I have only completed three of the recipes so far, I read the cookbook front to back and hope the small farm of seedlings started in the spare bedroom will outfit me enough to complete all of the others. Growing my own food—and having a book ready and waiting to tell me how to assemble it in the most delicious ways possible—seems like an ideal way to spend my spring, summer, and early fall. I’m anticipating many amateur food photography sessions and test-kitchen style dinners in the coming months...

—by Rachel Mincarelli

Rachel Mincarelli is a recent addition to the team and is a first-time resident of Denver. She enjoys writing because it connects her to communities and their stories while simultaneously allowing her to express her own interests.

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Based in Denver, Colorado

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