Many of you have, I’m sure, noticed my references to working in “the garden” this summer. I was waiting until the end of summer to fill everyone in on the amazing experience that I have had. Yes, I was working in a garden–how exciting is that? Well, I was not working in just any old garden. I was working in Amy Goldman’s garden.
Amy Goldman is the chair of the board of Seed Savers Exchange, a group that works to compile the seeds of as many different varieties of plants as possible. Her gardens comprise hundreds of varieties of heirloom tomatoes, squash, melons, peppers and other fruits and vegetables, as well as a huge and beautiful herb garden.
She is saving many of these strains by collecting the seeds from her plants. Each year that she grows these plants, she collects more and more seeds, ensuring the multiplication of the available seed supply for each variety. Her garden is providing a seed bank for the future.
So, I’ve been working in an incredible climate this summer. To be gardening in such a garden is just astounding–growing plants that could possibly be the only ones of their strain left in the world? Whoa, man. Plus, this summer, Amy’s third book The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table was released. It is beyond amazing–the definitive book on heirloom tomatoes. If you like tomatoes at all, you should get it. The photographs are incredible (as they are in her other two books, The Complete Squash and Melons for the Passionate Grower) and really give you an idea of how many different kinds of exceptionally beautiful and interesting tomatoes there are in the world. Plus, there are some amazing looking recipes in the back of the book if you’re looking to cook with tomatoes.
I mainly worked in the herb garden this summer with Lisa, a wonderful herb and flower gardener. I was absolutely amazed by how much I learned about herbs, and about plants in general (Lisa is incredibly knowledgeable). On Saturday (my last day), there was an open garden tour and book signing, and it was just so gratifying to have people come in and be simply blown away by how amazing and how beautiful Amy’s gardens are. People who have been gardening for years said they had never seen such an astounding garden, which only made me feel even more lucky to be working in such an amazing place for such an amazing woman (because Amy really is simply an incredible person).
I realize that I have been bombarding you with the adjective “amazing,” but there really is no synonym that portrays just how incredible these gardens are. I hope that you will at least look at Amy’s books to see what fruits and vegetables used to be, before so many strains disappeared with homogenized farming. And I hope that you will take the time to think about what an incredible thing she is doing for our world by saving these seeds.
Note to self: Wow.
Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a sophomore at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.