Saturday, February 16, 2013

Heirloom Tomatoes for Janisse

I drew these heirloom "Black Cherry" tomatoes last October (yes, this is an embarrassingly late post) from the summer garden I planted with my friend, Mary W.  I decided this journal entry would be a great way to introduce my readers to one of my favorite nature writers and poets: Janisse Ray.   Her most recent book, The Seed UndergroundA growing Revolution to save food, is a fascinating and eye-opening introduction to the saving of heirloom seeds such as the Black Cherry Tomatoes.  In it she writes,

'There is no despair in a seed. There's only life, waiting for the right conditions-sun and water, warmth and soil-to be set free. Everyday, millions upon millions of seeds lift their two green wings."

Beautiful.  I bet you are already inspired to plant some seeds!

I first became a fan of Janisse one night back in 1999 or 2000, when I heard her read from her book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, at Wofford College.  Her heartfelt reading brought me to joyful tears.  Afterwards, I rushed to buy a book, and as she signed it, amazed myself by gushing about how much I loved what she'd read.  (I don't usually act that way!)  Not surprisingly, I loved the whole book, and bought several for gifts.  I've also had two opportunities to spend some (not enough) time with Janisse.

If you spend any time at all with Janisse, or read her books of nonfiction, or poetry, you too will become a fan.  Here is what author Tina McElroy Ansa says about her:

"Janisse Ray is, and has always been, the real authentic deal.  She feels deeply about the land, the water, the life of this planet.  She lives that conviction. And she is blessed with the gift to write about this earth is a way that touches us all..."  

But Janisse doesn't just live her passion, and write her passion...she also teaches it. She and her husband own a farm in south Georgia, near Savannah, called Red Earth Farm.   Here they regularly "teach workshops on organic gardening, cheese-making, fermentation, canning, solar dehydration, backyard chickens, and other modern homesteading and sustainability skills"  She leads writing workshops at the farm, as well, during which you can, if you're interested, learn how to milk a cow!

As I mentioned, Janisse is a powerful and moving speaker.  Check here for her schedule of upcoming readings and talks.

And, for those who live nearby, JANISSE WILL BE IN GREENVILLE, SC this TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, as guest speaker at the South Carolina Native Plant Society - Upstate meeting.  I urge anyone in the upstate to come meet her, and hear her speak.   You'll be glad you did!

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