Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Our Property

I was recently asked when we knew we wanted to center our lives around food. I struggled to find an answer because there was no singular moment of decision making, but rather a whole series of ideas and goals that culminated recently when we gained the ability to describe our lifestyle as "food-centered."

One such idea came just after we moved to the suburbs. We were renting then and I was reading Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less by Walter Willett.* In the book he describes using every square inch of his Boston property to grow food.

We were lucky to have the full support of our land lord in building out a garden at our rental and when it came time to buy a house, we prioritized garden space.

Once we owned our own dirt it took Kyle a few months to convince me the right spot for our garden was our front yard. With full sun and a good amount of space I will now admit it really is the best space. Here's a quick sketch of our homestead.
Everything green is a food-bearing plant. I forgot to include our wild plum tree, which is located on the southeast corner of the house. I also accidentally left out the bramble between the house and the driveway where we sometimes have untamed blackberries.
One of our biggest crops is usually tomatoes, which Kyle preserves as sauce, juice and salsa. He also usually puts up several pounds of dehydrated tomatoes. I'll share more on this as the season progresses. The noteworthy thing about our tomato crop is that we do not buy commercial tomatoes. Ever.
Another big crop that grows an impressive portion of the year is chard. We purchased some chard starts in 2010 and I think we're still benefiting from the progeny of those same starts.
We'll write more about all our crops, but I wanted to share the basics. Our lot is 7,782 square feet which is just shy of .18 acres. It's not one of those suburban lots with a monstrous house built to the set back lines, but it's also not huge.

Our house is on the small side at 1,400 square feet and two stories tall, which leaves us plenty of room for gardening and outdoor living.

We're lucky our house happens to be located in the Willamette Valley. This is the same dirt settlers risked life and limb to stake claim on in the 1800s. It's pretty worth it. We truly can throw seeds out the back door and find plants growing weeks later.

So that's our property and some basics about our garden. We'll share more details about each of our garden crops in future posts. Until then, we hope you can find some inspiration in our efforts to start growing your own food -- or grow more of it!

*If you haven't read this book yet, you must. Go immediately to your local library and check it out. You can learn more about Dr. Willett by clicking the links above, but I'll mention that our diet is pretty much based firmly on his wisdom.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


We’re a family of four living in the fertile and temperate Willamette Valley in a good-sized suburb where we center our lives on our food. Kyle stays home to manage our two girls while growing, preserving, baking, brewing and cooking. Kyle is the great protagonist of our food-centered life, while I (Martha) am simply the story-teller who describes his heroic efforts to put dinner on the table.

We’re committed to living the healthiest lives we can, which increasingly means we eat only food made from whole ingredients. Our mission is to create all of our food from scratch while finding many other ways to keep our lives healthy. 

Since we’re a single income house, we’re careful with money while ensuring our girls’ childhoods are rich with experiences. We’re keen to continually lessen our environmental impact. Grown in Suburbia is our effort to share our culinary, frugal and creative adventures and tell a story about our low-cost and food-centered life.