The Rock Garden Project was named after the many mini-boulders I dug up from the garden over the past 3 years. In the spring, when the vegetation was just a dream, the garden was full of rock sculptures and rock steps. The stones pointed the way to the rows of seeds hiding in the warming soil. Rocks anchored the cold frame plastic. Some rocks still bear faded labels: "cilantro" and "buttercrunch."
I like keeping track of my quest to be one with my food sources. I plan on continuing the quest and the keeping track, but I'm not sure where I'll be growing vegetables next. Over the past few months, without even trying, I started plotting my next moves. And this is what I've come up with.
Looking out the kitchen window into the back yard of the house we rent in mid-Michigan, you see a large fenced-in area. The piles of junk and long strands of dried brown grasses lead me to believe that the landlords (it is their yard, actually) don't garden every inch of it. There will be a conversation in the future, wherein I gently inquire about this garden and its potential for producing for us some fresh veggies. From what I gather, the family is a busy, frugal, do-it-yourself kind of tribe, with not a lot of country living experience. Though, they do have a wandering flock of chickens, peacocks, ducks, guinea fowl, and llamas. There is potential here.
I also have learned that llamas are communal defecators. That is so much more exciting than you might think. They politely perform their poopies in a pile of garden fertilizer! All I have to do is haul it over to the garden!
From what I've gathered about the natural history of Michigan, I will most likely be working on a Sand Garden Project. It was too easy to garden when I owned my own land and animals. Too easy. I'm no longer a landowner; that will make things more interesting. This is really about where my food comes from, so I'm going to continue to document that.
I was really surprised to learn that groceries are about 30% more expensive in East Lansing than in grocery stores north of Syracuse. They are about 10% more expensive than groceries in Pulaski, NY. A couple years ago, after realizing that we're all getting ripped off here at the P&C in Pulaski, I started making trips every 3 or 4 weeks to the Wegman's store in Cicero. I think it's perceived as the more "upscale" store. But the prices and quality were both much better there. But my point is that it is convenient and obvious to go to Meijer for groceries in our new home. It will take a bit of detective work to seek out other sources of food than these most obvious ones.
I'm still interested in the details of our food systems. This move will give me a chance to ask more questions and face more challenges. I can make comparisons between regions as well. I'm thinking of my Amish neighbors here in NY, who provided me with beautiful vegetables when I needed more or my bell peppers were wimpy. The suburban jungle of East Lansing is in sharp contrast to the rural, even wild, landscape of northern Oswego county.
one llama... and the fertilizer pile