Recently I learned about Kitchen Gardeners International, a non-profit organization based in Maine that’s focused on bringing “greater levels of food self-reliance” to global communities and individuals. They do this by promoting kitchen gardening, home cooking, and sustainable local food systems. KGI’s programs include International Kitchen Garden Day, an email newsletter, and a public awareness campaign called Real Food for Real People. And of course, a great blog, which is featured on their home page.
The KGI blog features recipes, book reviews, and thought-provoking articles collected from other sources. Currently on the blog are recipes for spicy cauliflower & cheese soup and a spicy vinaigrette; articles about saving seeds and buying spinach locally; and a Barbara Damrosch article on pawpaws. One of my favorites is an article from the New York Times on “delawnification,” which discusses the process of turning a lawn into a more earth-friendly and beautiful garden. The before & after photos of the “delawnified” house are great. Who wouldn’t want that?
By the way, here’s an excerpt from their site, What is a Kitchen Gardener? I love this definition and it’s what I would like to strive for in my own kitchen and with my own eating habits. I’m including the entire page because I really like it.
First and foremost, Kitchen Gardeners love food, both product and process. They do not dream of eating a good tomato, but a true tomato, picked warm and juicy from the vine at the peak of its ripeness. Their enjoyment of the fruit is a complete one because it is inextricably entwined with the memory of the plant in its various stages of development. They taste not only the fruit, but the care and honest labor that went into making it.
In this sense, Kitchen Gardeners are gastronomes of the highest order. Unlike mere foodies who flit from one trendy spot to another in search of instant culinary gratification, Kitchen Gardeners set out roots in a place and begin planning their pleasure months in advance. Visions of pesto are not left for the heart of summer, but begin occupying their heads already in the spring with the purchase of basil seeds or plants.
Their love of food is a complete one that extends beyond the plate to the soil and the natural processes and cycles from which good food comes. Kitchen Gardeners are in tune with the natural world, the weather, and the seasons. They look for ways of working peacefully and harmoniously with nature, rather than fighting against her. They are stewards of the land, whether it be a farm or a window-box.
Kitchen Gardeners more often than not have a strong, independent streak. Rather than worship at the altar of celebrity chefs, they look for practical ways of bringing their own day-to-day cuisine into the realm of the divine by using the best ingredients their land, climate, and skills will allow. Their love of quality and freshness is reflected in the food they buy to supplement and complement their own production. Because Kitchen Gardeners understand where good food comes from and how it is produced, they tend to seek out food that is authentic, local, seasonal, and minimally-processed whenever possible.
Put simply, Kitchen Gardeners are a special breed. They are self-reliant seekers of “the Good Life” who have understood the central role that home-grown and home- cooked food plays in one’s well-being. By seeking an active role in their own sustenance, they are modern-day participants in humankind’s oldest and most basic activity, offering a critical link to our past and positive vision for our future.
KGI have a lot of interesting recipes, articles, and gardening tips in their archives. So, if you’re interested in sustainable gardening and eating, take a minute to check out their site and sign up for their email newsletter. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.