I grew up in Chicago with two parents who loved to garden. My dad was an avid vegetable gardener who loved his homegrown jalapeños, and my mom tended to many varieties of flowers. In my early 20s, I moved out on my own and almost immediately missed having a yard and a garden to spend time in. I filled every window sill in my condo with plants. I would even start little seedlings in the windows and then bring them over to my parents’ yard to transplant them out.
Eventually, my friend, who lived down the street, gave me free rein in his backyard. I put in a raised bed and designed my first vegetable garden from scratch. After that, I knew how important it was to me to always find a way to have a garden, and the goal of one day growing all of my food began to take shape. An interest in growing my food also blossomed alongside an interest in cooking the foods that I was harvesting. I attended culinary school and have been working in the food industry for the last 10 years.
In 2017 I bought a house in Colorado and have been slowly turning the outdoor space into my dream garden. Each year I add something new. Last year I tore up the lawn on the side of the house and added 5 new raised beds. The year before that I had my property certified as a Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. My entire front yard is landscaped with native plants and wildflowers, and providing habitat for animals and food for pollinators is very important to me. This year my goal is to invest in perennials and I’ll be planting my first fruit tree!
Q: What is your favorite plant?
A: Hands down, lilacs! My mom had a gigantic lilac bush growing alongside the house I grew up in back in Chicago. The smell of lilacs brings back so many memories. Currently, a row of lilacs lines the fence between my yard and my neighbor’s. When they’re in full bloom, my whole yard smells of them and they usually signal that we’re at the height of spring (my favorite time of year!) I only recently learned that they’re also edible and can be dried and used in teas. Last year I steeped some of the cut flowers in lemonade to make a floral, and slightly purple, delicious drink.
Q: What is your spirit vegetable?
A: Kale. It was once relegated to the sidelines as a garnish, but once its true value was understood, it took the food industry by storm. It’s easy to care for and survives a wide variety of climates. It’s even easier to prepare and cook with.
Q: What is the most unusual plant you’ve grown?
A: Not unusual per se, but I love to grow unusual variations of common plants. The first time I grew Chioggia beets I was immediately hooked on growing different types of common vegetables. Next up on the list are black radishes, white cucumbers, purple peas, purple basil, and purple broccoli.