Pleased to Meet You

This is my inaugural blog post for Grit, and it seems appropriate to introduce you to my piece of earth.

My plot is about half an acre in a suburbanish neighborhood in a midsize city in central North Carolina. The lot is covered in mature post oaks. I began gardening here ten years ago, recovering the lot from an overgrown state (the elderly lady who lived here before me liked the “natural look.”). I have ambitions to turn it into an urban farm, at least as far as is permitted by local statutes. The rest of my family are decent, patient people who suffer my ambitions with generous humor. We have a good operation here.

In my mind, my garden hums with the sounds of my honeybees and the clucking of my backyard chickens. I hear the thump of ripe apples dropping to the ground in my tiny personal orchard. I snap fresh beans on my porch while the okra and tomatoes simmer on the stove.

In reality, there are no chickens yet because the kids’ play fort stands where the coop needs to go; it is the only space large enough and far away enough from property lines as dictated by local ordinances, that is not covered with large trees. Those large trees are also preventing successful culture of those heirloom apples. I have a Brown Turkey fig tree in a pot. I get about four figs a year. Everyone starts somewhere.

I have coaxed three blueberry bushes into the landscaping near the house, and my acid clay soil supports them well. I have grown these plants successfully and they give me the confidence to carry on with the vision. I am determined to get honeybee hives, but that plan was waylaid for a year or two as we needed to add on to our house, and the best site for the hives is near where the builders will be. While my theory remains untested, I believe that bees and foundation-digging equipment probably don’t mix. But the bees will happen; it helps that my husband loves both blueberries and honey.

I have limited full-sun exposure in the garden so I experiment with mixing vegetables and ornamentals. I’ve had good success with herbs. I grow in containers when I can. And I manage a small community garden for my church, the proceeds of which support our local food bank, so what I can’t grow at home I can usually grow at the church.

It’s a lot to juggle. I remind myself that the struggle is a good one. It keeps me rooted in gratitude. My problems are first-world problems.

It’s nice to meet you. You can also visit my garden and me at my other blog,

This is my suburban “farm” (we all must start somewhere). The blueberries are in the background, covered in netting. The fig has 33 figlets on it! A bumper crop; let’s hope they all mature and I can keep the squirrels away. And soon it will be time to start the fall container-veg garden.

Pleased to Meet You!

Marie James head shotHello readers! My name is Marie, and I enjoy talking about the

rural lifestyle. My husband, Jim, and I have always been “homesteaders at heart,” though most of our life has been spent in urban and suburban settings. We

bought our first acreage in 1981, moved several times for job changes, and then found our “finally farm” in 2007.

property meadow pond forest

Though they live elsewhere, our children and grandchildren share this slice of heaven with us. They come and go as they can, participating in farm

projects and working on their own cabins and future home sites. Jim and I feel blessed to have great relationships with all our family members: the four that

we raised, the four that married them, and our baker’s dozen of beautiful grandchildren.

Together we spent three years developing our property before Jim and I moved here full time in 2010. Gradually it’s all coming together. We now have a

small home, a large utility barn, a chicken coop, and a garden shed/greenhouse. Two Maremma sheepdogs and a small flock of laying hens live on the farm all

year long.

We raise meat chickens in the summer and have plans to add beef cattle and pigs to the mix. The family has planted an orchard which promises future fruits

and berries. We have a nice sized vegetable garden and preserve some of our bounty by canning, freezing, and dehydrating. It’s a wonderful feeling to sit

down to a meal that originated right here on the farm.

A family of adventurers, we like to try new and old methods of farming, gardening, and homemaking. Our parents and grandparents set examples for us, and

we desire to live close to the land and be good stewards of it as well. Now we’re seeing another generation follow suit as even our young grandchildren jump

right in and help with animals and gardens.

Our projects reveal the engineer here, the administrator there, and creativity in many forms. The complementary interests and skills of all eight adults

result in a myriad of ideas. We win some and lose some, with our share of projects that worked better in our heads than in real life. But we also see many

successes and have a lot of fun.

Though the farm chores and other activities keep us busy, I always make time for writing. With other family members I review kitchen equipment at The Homesteader Kitchen and share practical how-to’s at The Homesteader School. We also offer encouragement and tips for the

urban-to-rural transition at Rural Living Today.

And now I’ll be writing here at Grit about our journey along the rural roads of life. It’s truly an adventure, and I look forward to sharing it with


Published on Feb 9, 2012

Grit Magazine

Live The Good Life with GRIT!