thoughts about life, art and color

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Family, Hard Work, & Memories…and did I mention hard work?

I have been going to the farmers’ market since I was a small child, as long as I can remember. I get so excited every time pulling into the parking lot. I love the smells, seeing the new purveyors, reassured when I see the old standbys, waiting for the horn to blow, and most of all, knowing we’ll be eating what is now considered quite chic – farm to table. Where have you all been?

I grew up in the city and I do mean, right smack dab in the center of the city. No rolling hills, no green grass, no flowers, none of that good stuff growing around us. We were surrounded by the landscape of Pittsburgh, better known as Belgian block. But, I was raised by my grandmother who came here from “the old country” so she only knew fresh or “putting up” for winter. For you newbies, that means canning. I learned to respect food at a very early age. Enter the hard work from my side. It’s really hot and tiring standing over a steaming pot after picking through, peeling, cutting, and prepping produce all day, actually a lot of hot summer days.

But this post is to show you a little from the production side of this process; again, stressing family, hard work, and I’m guessing, a lot of memories. I contacted Janoski’s Farm because I LOVE the aesthetics of how they display their produce, bushels, and baskets of bounty. Everything is lined up perfectly straight, ever so neat, piled so high you wonder how it stays balanced. They agreed to permit me to come into their space to photograph and I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Janoski, the matriarch of this hard working, proud family. She is such a pleasant and lovely woman and was kind enough to tell me about her husband, who recently passed, and her children and grandchildren who have been taught how to continue working their farm for posterity and for you and me. Besides the pride showing in the way everything is displayed, the way they work together while unloading is a beautiful choreographed dance. The family and workers move in unison, everyone knowing their part; step left, step right, bend, turn now, repeat. It was beautiful. I’m guessing everyone is tired at night’s end so, again, family, memories, and of course, hard work.

I prepped what I purchased that night and I’m going back to Janoski’s next week to get my tomatoes for canning. No matter how tired and hot I get, those memories of working side by side with my grandmother keep me smiling while I’m making new memories with my family. Maybe that’s why I love the farmers’ market so much. It’s like going home. Treat yourself, go to the market.

janoski  truck  pickles  peaches  peppers  mixed_bushels  garlic  bushels_peppers  beets  market_sign


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This week I saw a garden that highlights creativity, determination, and most of all, frugality. We learn about these characteristics our entire lives, but we don’t always follow through unless we really want something badly enough and we’re willing to show up and do the work. These folks showed up.

They were able to plant a garden filled with goodies without spending any money. They live in a plot that is about a 45 degree drop and enclosed on both sides by other houses. No backhoes in here! They also made the decision that they didn’t want to buy dirt so they brought compost, dirt and manure from another site by carrying in bushels. (My grandmother would have been proud. Buy dirt?!) They carried those bushels until they had enough dirt to provide them with a workable planting space. They’ve also made the most of every square inch by planting in between, underneath, and rotating. Now here’s the best. They started their plants from seeds or cuttings. So, think about this. You have a really good heirloom tomato for dinner tonight, save the seeds, dry them, protect them, and then start new plants for next year’s garden to enjoy a bunch of tomatoes. Take a look at what can be accomplished if you just work at it. Hats off!

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Ribbons and Yarns and Pizza Pie, Oh My!

I had so much fun visiting the Osborne Elementary gARTen. Osborne’s principal, Barbara Mellet and her associate, Erin Dierker, were so enthusiastic about this project it made me want to pick up a shovel and dig.

Osborne’s gARTen is a collaborative working garden that provides food for an annual pizza party, smoothie day, and enough greens to share with a local food bank. Parents are heavily involved while the children are learning how food actually gets to the market. By working in the garden they become a part of that process, a win-win for sure. The children’s art surrounds this beautiful, healthy garden and it is so uplifting to watch the ribbons blowing in the wind, hearing the chimes and seeing the ripple of the crocheted ropes. Ms. Mellet told me that they, like many gardeners in Western Pennsylvania, have had an ongoing battle keeping deer away from their garden. After a few failed attempts with other methods, they were inspired by the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh’s Knit the Bridge project which covered the Andy Warhol Bridge in knitted and crocheted panels. The good news….it’s working. The deer are staying away and the plants are thriving.

Why don’t you take some inspiration from Osborne and tie some colorful ribbons around your garden. Even if the deer still come, you’ll love watching the ribbons blowing in the breeze. This was indeed a very special gARTen!

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