Green beans and eggs from my backyard

local organic produce, backyard garden, gardening with children

The green beans were there and me, the city slicker didn't know it.

keeping backyard chickens is a good family project.

The one on the left is Houdini. She likes to escape. The white leghorns produce an egg a day - no matter what.

I grew up in a city on a bus route with a small backyard. The first time I smelled clean air and saw clear water in a lake was on a camping trip to Maine. I never knew city air and water were dirty. They were just normal. Farms were a primitive place that smelled kind of shitty, where we bought produce.

So it’s a shock when I’m able to produce food in my backyard. I’m so green [novice] about farming that Bob said this morning, “There are green beans ready to pick!” I thought that row of plants was eggplant. I couldn’t see the abundant beans hiding under the leaves.

Next year I’ll be planting green beans again because they grew in spite of me, like rhubarb, mint and cucumbers. I like food that’s easy to grow.

Eggs have been easy to produce, too. After much trepidation and research, I started keeping chickens about a year ago. Not raising — that would imply caring for little chicks that can drown in their water. Keeping, which means I buy them at age 4-5 months, when they’re about ready to start laying. And their eggs are delicious. They are the payoff for the hassles of keeping chickens.

My son Ian, the organic farmer, has been coaching me in land cultivation and animal husbandry. Our children love to be the expert and change roles with us. I wish we had grown more vegetables when he was growing up, but he seems to have compensated.

Growing a few easy-to-cultivate vegetables and keeping a few chickens are good family projects as well as opportunities for children to take responsibility. Gardens provide a natural place for children to learn to eat vegetables, too. It feels organic and connected to the earth to eat my own produce, eggs and yes, rooster meat when available.

My chickens gobble up kitchen scraps and relish food turned slightly bad. In return, they provide eggs and plenty of crap that makes excellent fertilizer. All with a very low carbon footprint. I like the feeling of my farmette, especially at mealtime.

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