Thought Lines

Ethne Clarke's Editor's Letter, February/March 2014

February 10, 2014

Gardens are for people, wrote Tommy Church, one of America’s leading landscape architects of the mid-20th century. And in that spirit, our early-spring issue puts the focus on those who make Organic Gardening what it is: the people—young, old, not so old, sort of young—who put the soul in our soil. First, we introduce our test gardeners—they’re our heirloom seeds, if you will, whose gardens and experience take Organic Gardening coast to coast, from Homestead, Florida, to Las Vegas, Nevada; Newport, Rhode Island, to Boulder, Colorado. They share their experience with us all online and in every issue, and in the variety trials this year, they tell us about their favorite, sure-fire winners for every climate zone.

Meanwhile, in the Philadelphia restaurant world—and very much in the spirit of “if you grow it, you will cook it"—acclaimed chef Marc Vetri’s school lunch program cooks with the OG testers’ recommended varieties, while teaching students about health and nutrition at the same time. In another part of the megalopolis, writer Nancy Matsumoto visits the Columbia Secondary School in South Harlem to learn how student gardeners there are wrangling urban compost to teach their parents and the school administrators about the importance of soil health to personal health.


Talk about budding: My winter-planted garlic is poking through the mulch, so I was happy to learn about an efficient way to peel garlic, and you’ll find that kitchen skill in the first appearance of a new department dubbed Food Central. There you’ll meet a selection of culinary professionals gathered round the OG kitchen counter to share with you some of their favorite ways with familiar, and sometimes not-so-familiar, ingredients or, occasionally, a special food event. This is neatly balanced by Simply Fresh chef Edward Lee introducing his discovery of health-giving, lip-smacking varietal grapeseed oils for cooking, dressing, or dipping.

Organic Gardening has long led the field with its trusted gardening content; we work with people who grow and know firsthand what they are writing about. Now we bring the same attention to food: New to our masthead (the place we get our names in print!) is editor at large Corby Kummer. His assignment? Make OG’s Common Ground column a place where we can not only gain some clarity around the sometimes-contentious, frequently confusing food and sustainability issues of our day, but also learn about what is trending (and waning) in the miasmic swirl of hot-button food issues.

It often seems the world is a very different place than it was some 50 years ago, when self-sufficiency made us scramble for the garden and we prided ourselves on safe, microbe-free harvest-preserving skills. Today, community resilience gets our attention, and fermentation is the buzz in preserving what we grow—go, you microbes!—but otherwise, not much has changed. There’s just more of it, and more people getting growing. And I can dig it. Totally.

Ethne Clarke 
Editor in Chief

Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, February/March 2014