Posts by James A. Baggett
Summer is the season to celebrate sustainable farming. We talk a lot about farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), urban gardens and hand-crafted food. Something that doesn’t get talked about all that much is the changing face of the American farmer. It turns out there are some pretty wonderful folks out there taking up the reins with skill and intelligence. Their enthusiasm is infectious. My new friends Gretel and Steve Adams are twentysomething organic flower farmers whose creativity and determination to earn a living from their land in Ohio is inspiring.
You can read about their Sunny Meadows Flower Farm and see how Gretel fashions her gorgeous flower arrangements next summer in Country Gardens! In the meantime, that’s the three of us admiring their hoop house filled with lovely lisianthus.
Fans of the late Dan Fogelberg may recognize the name Nederland (as in Colorado) as the inspiration for his 1977 album Nether Lands as well as the place where he made his home beginning in 1974. All I knew was that I was heading to meet photographer Bob Stefko and his assistant Shelby Kroeger at the garden of Kristin-Lee Baillie, a Country Gardens Awards winner who has spent the past eight years carving out a beautiful garden at some 9,000-feet elevation within the Roosevelt National Forest not far from Boulder. You can check out the results of our photo shoot in the Fall 2015 issue of Country Gardens. That’s Bob and me hanging out with Kristin-Lee’s undownable children, Jasper and Lili, who taught me how to run like a fox and is my new penpal.
Art director Nick Crow just returned from producing a photo shoot on Country Gardens Award Winners Leo and Gloria McGee and their incredible hydrangea garden in Cookeville, Tennessee. Here they are taking a break from the shoot. Look for the story in the Fall 2015 issue of Country Gardens!
The Fall 2015 issue of Country Gardens just went on sale with TWO different cover images. Let us know which do you like better (and why)…and don’t forget to like Country Gardens magazine on Facebook!
Omaha is home to thousands of refugees from South Sudan, Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, Burundi, the Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran, among others. Laura Weiss, an Omaha native and volunteer ESL teacher, was moved by her students’ stories of the lives they left behind, and the lives they dream of here. One common thread emerged: many said they missed gardening and farming. So, with borrowed land and a small grant from a foundation, Laura started the Root Down Community Garden on the Southwest corner of 32nd and Webster, just west of the Creighton University campus, giving these recent arrivals a way to literally and figuratively put down roots in Omaha by growing organic vegetables and herbs. That’s me above with Laura and some of the many refugees she works with at the Root Down Community Garden. The Country Gardens crew—including photographer Jacob Fox—was there a few weeks ago to produce a story for the early Spring 2015 issue.
While Laura originally intended the garden to encourage her students to pursue a favorite hobby, and give them a taste of home, she also realized that the economic hardships they endure restrict their access to nourishing fresh foods. Ultimately she hopes gardeners, who are primarily women from Bhutan and Sudan, will be able to sell some produce at summer farmers’ markets or teach cooking classes representing their traditional cuisines. In the meantime, the gardeners are getting to know each other – and their new community – better. “This project is bigger than Omaha, bigger than the individual people, and bigger than simply the beauty of a community garden,” said Laura. “This project will change the lives of people who have struggled and suffered for far too long. Refugees arrive in the United States and immediately enter the poverty level. With these economic dynamics, access to nourishing foods is extremely restricted. Root Down promotes compassion, community health, self-sustainability, and cultural understanding.” You can see we found a new green thumb and green-hearted friend of Country Gardens!
The United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 69 years ago, bringing about the end of World War II and ushering in the atomic age. Last fall, I was fortunate to be invited to attend a Japanese flower show dedicated to world peace in the shadow of Nagasaki, the last city to survive a nuclear attack. This was Japan’s fourth annual Gardening World Cup, held in a slightly surreal 18th-century Dutch-inspired theme park called Huis Ten Bosch, complete with canals and windmills and wooden shoes. Getting there wasn’t easy. After the long transpacific flight to Tokyo, I faced another two-hour flight plus a lengthy train ride to get to the southern end of the country, near the city of Sasebo. After more than 30 hours of travel, I finally found myself—rumpled and exhausted—at the Hotel Europe, one of several well-appointed hotels within the theme park. Sixteen designers were chosen for the exhibition—six from Japan, two each from New Zealand and South Korea, and one each from England, France, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, and the United States. The designer representing the United States was my friend Michael Petrie, a veteran of many Philadelphia Flower Shows. The theme was “A Prayer for World Peace through Gardens and Flowers,” especially fitting for a flower show so close to Nagasaki. I met up with friend and photographer Rob Cardillo, and we decided to focus our attentions on our five favorite garden designers and their entries: Michael Petrie (United States), James Basson (France), Xanthe White (New Zealand), Lim In Chong (the inspiration for each of their thought-provoking entries. Malaysia), and Leon Kluge (South Africa). Check out the results of our visit in the Fall 2014 issue of Country Gardens, on sale now!