A common question teachers ask grade school students to write about is: If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why? For me, that answer has always been Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson and I have many things in common: a love of freedom and independence, a demand for personal responsibility, a craving for good wine and food, a sense of the importance of reading and correspondence, a respect for personal time and space, a desire for culture and lifelong education, a commitment to reason and science over religion, and a belief in taking care of one’s body through regular exercise. But a passion for gardening and living off the land is one area where we have always differed. Jefferson’s gardens, and his meticulous record-keeping about his gardens are well-known among Jefferson and gardening aficionados alike. I tried to make a small garden once, six years ago, but a spring hailstorm destroyed everything and I couldn’t be bothered to try again.
In the Denver/Boulder area, there’s definitely some pressure to have a garden, given the popularity of gardening and the emphasis here on fresh vegetables, farmers markets, and organic living. Many of my friends and neighbors have gardens and even work for community garden organizations. Despite my initial failed attempt and subsequent resignation, I have still wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And living at The Sanctuary, it seems a bit wasteful to not take advantage of the space and the sunshine. With an adobe-walled courtyard to keep the plants warm and sheltered, and keep the critters out, I already have a leg-up on other amateur horticulturists, so this past summer seemed like the perfect time to give it another go. And if I was going to try, naturally I was going to be Jeffersonian about it. Continue reading →