By Sheryl Campbell
Sheryl and her husband, Rob, are city kids gone country. When they bought their 5-acre bit of heaven in 2007 they had a dream of “doing something” with the land. Not sure exactly what that something should be, they began to experiment and try out different ideas. Sheryl started by tackling the woefully neglected vegetable garden, and spent much of the first year reading everything in the library regarding raising vegetables. A gift subscription to GRIT and, later, Heirloom Gardener got her off to a good start with heirloom and open-pollinated vegetables and flowers. Chickens and guinea fowl came next, followed by fruit trees and vines husbanded by Rob, and then by Katahdin sheep to fulfill Sheryl’s wintertime dream. Jersey cows, Kune Kune pigs, and goats have all been discussed and sidelined, at least for the moment. A very true adage of the rural life is “you never know what tomorrow will bring”.
As a home educator, Sheryl spent much of her first years of rural life teaching her son, inculcating him with a love of nature, and learning to balance farm chores with homemaking and teaching. As Colin reached his early teens he turned that love of nature into the second largest commercial iris garden in Virginia (www.IrisHillsFarm.com). His interests spurred Sheryl on further into the horticultural world as she explored the many edible flowers and trees already growing on the property. That led to mixed plantings of vegetables, herbs, and flowers to add to the edible flowers she was learning to cook. Unable to part completely with her role as educator, Sheryl launched www.BouquetBanquet.com in order to teach others about cooking with edible flowers. She has become a sought after presenter at garden clubs throughout the Shenandoah Valley and with the Northern Shenandoah Master Gardeners Association. She has more recently expanded her teaching to include on-site training in establishing low-input gardens.
Writing has always been one of Sheryl’s passions. She’s been able to pursue writing in very different ways in the various iterations of her life. Poetry filled her early years, mostly free-verse because it was the 70’s after all. A couple of decades in sales and human resources for a national contract staffing firm turned her writing more prosaic. As Director of National Accounts and Sales Trainer she wrote sales manuals, produced training seminars, prepared proposals and resumes, and produced a myriad of business correspondence. A didactic twist occurred as she taught English and composition at home. Her son’s iris activities led her to become a freelance writer for a number of American Iris Society publications. Putting together content for Bouquet Banquet introduced her to yet another mode of communication.
Sheryl’s life these days is filled with gardening, creating recipes, preserving the harvest, shepherding, writing, and enjoying the rural life. She can be found spending time with friends, introducing young children to the joys of farming and gardening, and exploring international cooking.
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