By Andrew Weidman
Writing from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, Andrew Weidman plans to focus his blog on country life in suburbia, with a secondary focus on gardening, fruit growing in a backyard setting, coexisting with insects, and local, Pennsylvania Dutch history.
"I am currently involved in an outreach program for Backyard Fruit Growers, a grassroots group dedicated to sharing information on fruit culture in the backyard setting," Andrew says. "I graft antique apple trees for eventual sale at an annual herb fair sponsored by a local living history museum, Landis Valley Museum. Each participant grafts five or 10 trees each year, selecting antique varieties not usually found at nurseries or big box stores."
His to-do list includes installing a small home orchard of four trees, planting two dozen gooseberry and currant bushes, and adding pollinator-friendly plantings of perennial natives around their Red Brick Garden homestead.
"I can’t say I ever really left the country," he says. "I grew up on a small Pennsylvania Dutch dairy, and could never stomach the idea of urban life."
Andrew defines a homesteader as "someone who practices a lifestyle where they produce as much of the necessities and ‘nice to haves’ as they can, while assessing what they actually need and want. That being said, I do not consider myself a true homesteader, although I do appreciate the value of a slower, simpler lifestyle, practicing what I can of self-sufficiency."
The family garden was originally planted to help cut down on grocery bills, and to supply at least a portion of the family's food.
"Later, I caught the ‘heirloom bug’ and spent many years saving and trading seeds. Eventually, I began writing about gardening and garden-related history," Andrew says. "A few years ago, I had to make a choice: I could either do what I should be writing about or write about what I should be doing, but not both. I chose writing. That being said, I still maintain the flowerbeds and berry bushes on our property."
The garden currently contains various gooseberries and currants, a pear espalier, four potted figs, a small orchard consisting of two antique apples and two antique pears.
The family shares Red Brick Garden with three small mixed-breed dogs, two of which are rescue dogs: a Cockerpoo named Sophie, aYorkiepoo named Scamp, and a Yorkiepoo named Lola.
Andrew lists his country skills as gardening, grafting, plant propagation, and "a very rusty understanding of small farm practices."
And his philosophy of country life?
"I believe there is a very real and pressing need to preserve self-sufficiency skills and practices, so they are not lost to the past. There is no way to know what skills and abilities will be needed in the near future."You can reach Andrew via his Facebook page – Andrew Weidman and/or Backyard Fruit Growers; through Google+; or by way of LinkedIn.