Monday, June 9, 2014

Garden Spot of Iowa

In my mind, Kalona is the garden spot of the state of Iowa.

Most of these pictures were taken in the past few weeks. I love fresh garden produce and enjoy driving past Amish farms and looking over their huge gardens.  I am always impressed when I pass an Amish farm (on my way to work) at 7:00 a.m. and see teenage girls already working between the rows.  On my way home, someone is usually working in the same garden.

In my novel, Under the Heavens, I mention that an Amish garden is lived in as much as any room in the house.  That is probably an understatement.

Amish farmers near Kalona still plow up fields, making them appear like huge gardens. In the old days, all of Iowa was plowed, gone over with a disc and harrow, until all soil was neatly combed.

Most farmlands in the U.S. now fall into the category of no-till.  Once harvest takes place, remaining stems and root systems are left in place, keeping soil from eroding.  This is good for the soil but not as easy on the eyes.  The farmlands surrounding Kalona still look garden like.

Garden tea is a delightfully fresh drink, it tastes like summer in a glass, and is a staple in almost every Amish home.

I highly recommend taking a leisurely drive through an Amish/Mennonite community and noticing their gardens. Many Amish families sell fresh garden produce for a living.  Stop in and let yourself go back in time, to a place where food was anything but "fast", and almost everything is healthy and tasty.

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