By Angela Price
It makes sense.
When I can’t seem to escape the constant barrage of global and domestic turmoil that’s in the media, all I want to do is be Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Little House on the Prairie series (my favorite books growing up). Maybe it’s my coping mechanism – If I can’t control the chaos that seems to be perpetuated on the news every two minutes, it makes sense to me to try to control what I can. Maybe that’s why there is this emphasis on getting back to a simpler life of home grown produce, home baked bread, a house sized right and sharing that with one’s community of friends and neighbors and family. Not that I want to give up all my creature comforts…you know, like Little House on the Prairie, but with an iPad and Facebook.
I recently came across a quote from a 17th Century poet that really sums it up for me:
“May I a small house and a large garden
And a few friends,
and many books,
Both wise and both
~ Abraham Cowley
I love the whole concept of creating one’s very own urban farmhouse. I think we city dwellers have this romantic notion of farm life. Unfortunately, gardens don’t really look like they do in magazines and gardening books (that doesn’t stop me from buying them and dreaming, though). Plants are eaten by bugs and critters. The dog digs up the flowerbed. The chickens poop on everything! This morning, I pick a fig off my tree and hand it to my cousin who is visiting. She exclaims, “I love figs!” and her face lights up. This makes it all worthwhile, even the chicken poop on the bottom of my shoe. I can still dream of perfect rows of lettuce and carrots. The lettuce and carrots and all the other veggies I grow will be perfect enough because I grew them. I will cook with them and share those meals with my family and friends in our small house, and for a few moments, or until my husband starts talking politics at the dinner table, there will be no chaos or turmoil.
I hold out hope that fall is upon us in Southern California (yes we do have fall). The mornings are cool and damp and the afternoon air has a subtle crispness to it. It is the perfect time to plant here. While much of the rest of the country is sweeping up fallen leaves, quickly picking the last produce before the first frost and putting gardens to bed, I am planting salad gardens galore and popping daffodil bulbs into pots that will bloom by January. The ground is still warm, but the air is cooler, so the soil won’t dry out so quickly. In the cooler temperatures of fall and early winter, besides lettuces, I grow root vegetables and broccoli and peas. I am going to try garlic this fall and maybe sweet potatoes. The aforementioned chicken poop makes wonderful compost, so that will go into the beds to nourish the tiny plants as they grow.
And I will reach out through my ‘growing’ business to create for others their very own urban farms, so that the bounty can be shared.
It makes sense…and maybe Laura Ingalls Wilder’s spirit is smiling down at me and all the other urban farmers out there for trying to bring the world back to a simple place.
Angela Price is a recovering human resources executive, urban farmer, hen keeper and owner of Eden Condensed, small space garden design. She lives in Valley Village, CA with her (very) tolerant husband, two amazing boys, four cats and 5 chickens. Angela can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out Eden Condensed at Unique LA at the California Mart in Downtown LA on December 3-4.