I picked up Organic Gardening magazine recently and found a piece by Maria Rodale, daughter of Robert Rodale, organic gardening guru of the 60s and 70s, and founder of Organic Gardening Magazine. She was recommending The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back to Basics Guide by John Seymour. I was reminded that forty years ago we were avid organic gardeners, composting and mulching, raising quantities of vegetables that we then canned and froze and dried and pickled.

Self-sufficiency was the by-word. We raised a pig and a few turkeys that were butchered every fall. We had chickens for meat and eggs and kept hives of bees for honey. Max baked a dozen loaves of bread each weekend. We drove to New Hampshire to buy unpasteurized milk for cheese making and sought out grass fed beef at the few butcher shops that carried it. There was usually a quart jar of homemade yogurt in the refrigerator. Max had built a small window greenhouse in an upstairs window where he started the seedlings for our huge vegetable garden.

Little wonder then that the prospect of owning an orchard was tremendously appealing. What we hadn’t considered was the amount of work required to revive an orchard of ancient trees. The tractors and equipment were aging and faltering. There were run down buildings to be repaired and tasks enough to keep the whole family working ten hour days. There was no time for vegetable gardens or bread making or searching out grass fed beef. The family focus was on learning how make a living growing apples.

Happily, over the years we have been able to resume composting, growing vegetables without chemicals, and keeping chickens for eggs and meat. It’s been years since we’ve canned anything and Max hasn’t baked bread or made cheese for thirty years but we still remember the wonderful food and tremendous satisfaction that providing so much of our food brought.

Eating fresh, eating local produce, and eating organic isn’t new but I’m so happy that the pendulum is swinging back toward healthier less processed food.