Nestled on a 1/4 acre in Central New Jersey is where we begin our self reliance experiment. Right on Main Street across from the library you’ll find our homestead.  The house was built in the late 1800′s. A large maple stands at the front corner of our lot, it can be seen as a sappling in a photo taken of our home in 1898. The basement is old stones, pulled from the dirt as they dug the foundation. The house has roots, I can feel the age in the creaks of the floorboards as I mount the stairs on the front porch. This is where we begin.

It started as a very small dream. I wanted to start that garden for John and grow our own food for our children. So many of us don’t have the simple pleasure of going out to the yard and choosing a fresh morsel to pick and eat. I wanted that for our children, I wanted them to see the magic in the garden as I had as a little girl. So one year for Mother’s Day, my husband built me a garden. It was modest at first, five tiered plots with stone walls cascading down the side of our yard. I was ecstatic. Each person in the household was allotted a plot, including our tenant who shared our home. We each carefully chose what plants we wanted in our beds, the memories are sweet of those first cautious steps into homesteading. The garden now reaches Main Street, every year we got a little more ambitious.

Our House 1890s

My first memories of the garden are at my Grandparent’s house. My Grandpa John never missed a growing season. His garden stretched from one end of the backyard, to the big tree on the other side. Neat rows of vegetables all lined up. By mid summer the garden would be lush with vegetation. Plenty of picking to be done, my Grandmother would remind anyone who was listening.

His garden was magical to me. I caught fireflies at night for a nickel a piece in rows of green beans. We played hide and seek. I hid in the corn giggling, waiting for Grandpa to find me in the fading light of dusk. The little tree in the back corner of the yard is where I first learned to climb, where I first learned to fall too.  His chair sat under the big tree at the corner of the garden, I can still see him there.

John's Tomatoes

John’s Tomatoes