with Dawn Olson

Dawn OlsonHey, what’s a nice girl like you, doing in a field like this? Grow’in good food, baby! How does a woman veteran go from flying jets over the earth, to cooling her jets digging in the earth? Good question and it requires a story. So there I was…I found my 50-year old retired self in a new town, no kids in school, few social connections to speak of and honestly, a little lonely on my sprawling Texas ranch. (We don’t call them farms or ranchettes in these here parts)   A local Botanical Garden was offering an organic veggie growing course and I thought, hey anyone who gets their hands dirty might prove fun. Well, five years and 500 connections later, growing good food delivered a huge social network, an incredible training ground (no pun intended), and an adventure that beats The Sims or Candy Crush Saga any day.

Read on, you wanna be farmer girls or you serious types about the benefits of growing good food.  Disclaimer before we begin-I got no degree in Agriculture, but neither did our farming ancestors. Although my grandparents were Iowa farmers, my only experience there was climbing the apple trees and getting yelled at for breaking branches. What is it with young girls and apple trees? I digress! As a life-long learner and classic over-achiever, I’ve read 53 books on agriculture, watched dozens of videos, taken numerous courses, endured lectures, and got organically certified (not to be mistaken with certifiable). Impressive as that sounds, it is actually the dirt caked nails, bug bites, scraped knees, dead plants and finally, the bountiful produce that are the greatest teachers in agriculture.

So, if you have a sense of humor, and want to learn about growing food, then this is your blog.   Can you remember a time when you bit into a cold juicy-sweet red watermelon, sucked that juice down and then launched the seeds in rapid-fire across the fence or at your sister? Oh come on, I can’t be the only one with that childhood.   Okay, you serious types, how about gently cutting a soft delicate peach into elegant slices, then carefully laying them over mounds of vanilla ice cream, and using a spoon the size of a fry pan, gobble it down? Ah, memories of good food from childhood. What happen?

Here is the history of dirt (another pun, she’s on a roll). Well ladies, we went from Queen of Food to Queen of Work World.   Now, before you get your vanishing edge microfiber with lace Bikini panties in a bind, hear me out. You know what happens when women leave a space unattended for very long, it goes awry. That is what happened with our food industry. In an effort to respond to busy women everywhere, processed foods filled the void. I will let you all

research the effects of that, but heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer followed suit. Enough said!

Good news is, good food is coming back from near extinction and here is where you can find it, grow it, or support those who do. Now, back to the field of dreams, or in my case, field of peas.   Sun Tzu said, “The Art of Gardening is to never take yourself too serious.” Have you met ME, Mr. Tzu? For the most part we are some serious women, me included.   And gardening is serious business, why it can be life or death, at least for the plant that is. Like I said, I began this journey as a novice grower. The extent of my farming included a pot, bag-o-dirt and a plant from a box store, sound familiar? But when my family gave up eating anything with eyes or a mama, (yes, we are vegetarians, no we won’t try to convert you, and just for the record, we still like chocolate and booze), we decided to grow our own food.

You can do that? Why, yes you can!! Our 4K River Ranch sits nestled (I like that word) next to the Brazos River in Palo Pinto County, our food is grown for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and the North Central Texas Farmer’s Market Corp. families. We utilize sustainable practices such a rain capture system, solar panels, a hoop house, and permaculture techniques. Yes, I still shave my legs. We use no chemicals of any kind and work hard to rebuild the bee population, restore native grasses, and provide habitat for wildlife, which includes my husband-Iver.

This sometimes serious, mostly funny, but quite informative blog will tell you how we grow food. But wait there is more, in addition to the knowledge that you can improve and control your health (individual results may vary), support growers, help the earth, why you may even save mankind from itself (Okay, made that one up). But if we don’t get our food right, we may go the way of the dinosaurs, whom I think discovered Twinkies and the rest is history.

Why should you come with me to learn about growing life-enriching food, mysteries of soil cosmos, earthly Growing Good Foodwonders, and other fun stuff?  Because ladies, you are the only hope to help fix our food system.   Those of us with gray hair or chemically altered gray hair were responsible for catapulting women into the workforce, now we need to help women protect themselves and their families. This is my quest towards that endeavor. May the forbs be with you!  Okay, that’s really bad garden humor.

Stay tune, in July we talk “friends with benefits” and prepare the ground for the microbe invasion. Let’s get down and dirty, talking about the dark underworld of earth’s greatest creation (besides women) the soil.

Books to read:
Skinny Bitch, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. “A no-nonsense, tough love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!”