#1 | Elena and Zima Hartz - Having a homestead

Please find the transcript with Elena and Zima Hartz, a family with a homestead in Tacoma, Washington. We discuss growing their own food, keeping chickens, and the important roles bees play in pollinating their garden.

Daniel: [00:00:00] Hey, this is Daniel Hartz with Sustainability Matters Today, a podcast where I showcase pioneers of sustainability and discover their journey. The aim of these conversations is to share ideas from leaders in the field on how you as an individual can incorporate eco-friendly practices into your personal and business life. Today my guests are Elena and Zima Hartz, a couple who have a very productive home. They grow their own fruits and vegetables, preserve and ferment their own foods, and have a self-contained ecosystem with chickens that eat pests and produce eggs. We discuss a lot of things, but some of the highlights are the love for composting, the importance of keeping your own bees, and the best turkey they've ever had for Thanksgiving. Let's dive in and see why these topics contribute to an eco-friendly lifestyle.


Daniel: [00:00:49] Great. I'm here with Elena and Zena Hartz, who live near Tacoma, Washington. Thank you for joining me today.


Elena: [00:00:56] Hi Daniel.


Daniel: [00:00:57] I'm excited to talk to you both because there's so many things you do that are part of a what we call a "sustainable lifestyle" that may seem normal to you but I think are actually very unique to many people. For example, you grow many different types of vegetables and fruits, ou compost, you have chickens that lay eggs, you hunt for mushrooms, you buy half a cow, you buy a whole pig from your neighbors, you preserve a lot of your own food. Anything else that you do that I may be missing?


Zima: [00:01:30] We also have two huge dogs.


Daniel: [00:01:36] Elena, you said you cook a lot as well.


Elena: [00:01:38] Yes, we do.


Daniel: [00:01:40] From my point of view, I think that it's a very sustainable mindset. Meaning you're thinking about the environment, but even if you're not, how did you get into doing all of these various things? I mean it's a lot of stuff.


Elena: [00:01:54] Well I think for me it's more of my childhood. And when I was a child, I spent every summer at my grandmother's in Russia. She did have a large piece of property where she grew her veggies and fruits and she did have some livestock. And I was always dreading those tasks that will have to be watering tomatoes for two hours, instead of playing with my friends. And I always hated that part and it never even occurred to me that one day I will have a garden or I will have chickens. And it was much later in life actually in my - I think in my thirties - I was about 28 or 30 when I planted my first flower by my apartment. And slowly but surely, it started and continue going on. I think for me it's part of a returning to the flavors of my childhood.


Zima: [00:03:11] Yeah, I think I agree a lot of it has to do with going back to your - to our roots, no pun intended. But that I have a similar situation because I grew up with our own vegetable garden and fruit garden. And one of the things that we discovered - Elena and I - is that we miss a lot of things which are not popular in the States. Things that we grew up as kids a lot of - like certain fruit, for example, or certain berries - are simply not popular in the States and impossible to get. So we decided to grow our own. Would you agree?


Elena: [00:04:04] Yes.


Daniel: [00:04:05] What exactly is it that you miss?


Zima: [00:04:06] So for example it's really obvious but it's not that disturbing video of black and red currant. is not popular in the States but it's also impossible to get. Gooseberry, sour cherry. All of these things we love, but we cannot get them, so we decided to grow them on our own. Go ahead.


Elena: [00:04:33] Some of the veggies, for example on parsley root, or parsnip, or celery root. You can find them only in some supermarkets, but they are essential in our Russian cuisine, so to speak, and I use them for every stock and soup and I use them frequently, but it's almost impossible to find them in the stores.


Zima: [00:04:58] We also discovered very quickly that the stuff that we get from our garden is - because it's so fresh - it retains the childhood flavor almost: it's very flavorful. And nothing beats that because you simply can not get - even if you go to the farmers' market, I am convinced that we are not getting the same flavors from the farmers' market as we get here from our own garden. But another thing is, of course, a lot of that has to do with food. Like for example, we all grew up with young potatoes that you dig out, and that you cook in a very special way, with fresh garlic and with fresh dill. All of it comes from our garden including potatoes. And you simply cannot even buy young potatoes the way they have to be in order to cook these dishes. All of it has to do with the way we like our dishes because the flavors are impossible to beat when it comes from your own garden.


Daniel: [00:06:18] It all started really more out of necessity to a certain degree really.


Zima: [00:06:22] Or craving for certain foods and flavors.


Daniel: [00:06:25] And then that also comes down to the preserving of the food as well.


Zima: [00:06:33] That's very true.


Daniel: [00:06:34] What exactly does it mean to preserve food, at least the way that you do it?


Elena: [00:06:39] Well when you work hard all year on producing something in your garden and it's more than you can eat fresh, you have three options really: you give it away, you throw it away, or you preserve it. And again, it goes back to our culture, in Russia that's what we did. Summer and fall would be spent preserving the goodness of the garden. Because if you did not preserve, you did not eat in the winter. So it was a necessity. But then again, home preserves -canning - it tastes nothing - no store bought preserve will taste as good as home-made.


Daniel: [00:07:28] I'm guessing you pick everything when it's perfectly ripe and then you're preserving it right away?


Elena: [00:07:34] Pretty much, yes.


Zima: [00:07:36] So I'll give you an example of what we preserve. For example - and it's interesting how we learned how to preserve because we had to go back to our grandparents and Elena actually recovered, if you will, by interviewing her parents and my grandparents. We came up with original recipes which they used and it took us years actually to perfect these things, but we preserve, for example we pickle our own cucumbers and tomatoes. And this is very interesting because if you've never done it, it is surprising. It was a surprise to me - Elena taught me - that, for example, when you pickle cucumbers, you actually pickle them in hot water. Same with tomatoes and it would never occur to me. The first time Elena told me about this, I thought that the recipe is wrong and whoever gave it to us has no clue.


Daniel: [00:08:47] If you're putting it in hot water then you're going to be cooking the vegetables and the fruits.


Zima: [00:08:53] That's right. And there is some of it, as it turns out. But the interesting thing is that that's also what makes, for example, cucumbers crunchy. We discovered - because we started getting really interested in this, you start learning about these things. And for example, I discovered that before you pickle your cucumbers, we leave them in cold water for hours. Ideally, if we would have like a brook or a stream on our property - that's which you're supposed to do. Yeah, but that's also what makes it crunchy. Another thing that I found out by really reading about cucumbers - you can see that am sort of a fan of pickled cucumbers - but one thing that I found out that not every kind of cucumber is good for pickling. And when you look at cucumbers - fresh cucumbers - you will realize that they have little dots on them or little pricks - if you will - tiny, tiny needles. If the color of these tiny things is white, then you use these cucumbers for salads. They will not be pickled well. The ones that are pickled well are the ones that have black dots, but these are the things that you learn. And this is what I mean by us going back to our roots because all of a sudden the things that our grandparents really knew well, we're rediscovering them and that's what we really like.


Daniel: [00:10:41] What else do you like to preserve, besides cucumbers and tomatoes?


Elena: [00:10:45] Well we do - Zima fell in love with blackcurrant preserve. We do make our own sauerkraut.


Daniel: [00:10:56] Do you grow the cabbage and all these things that you preserve?


Elena: [00:10:58] No, we do not grow the cabbage that we preserve. But we do buy organic and you know as much as possible from locals. But our garden is not that good and I'm still learning about cabbages. So one day we will, but not yet.


Zima: [00:11:15] But we definitely preserve - we definitely grow our own blackcurrant. We have at least half a dozen bushes and it produces quite a bit of blackcurrant which we definitely preserve, but I eat it almost right away after the preserve is made. I start eating it because I absolutely love it.


Daniel: [00:11:43] So pickled cucumbers, tomatoes. You make your sauerkraut, blackcurrant preserve. Anything else you like to do?


Elena: [00:11:49] Well we smoke salmon.


Zima: [00:11:52] Yeah.


Elena: [00:11:52] We don't fish for salmon, but we'll buy local because we live in the Pacific Northwest. So, we do have a smoker, so we do smoke our own salmon.


Zima: [00:12:02] Yeah we do quite a bit of salmon. I just remembered that this year was the first year where we got so much grape. You wouldn't think that grapes - at least I didn't think that grapes actually grow in Northwest, but they do. So this year we got quite a bit - I don't know - about 10 pounds of grapes. Probably more.


Daniel: [00:12:28] Oh wow. Was it your first year actually getting grapes?


Zima: [00:12:33] Yeah. It was the first year getting so much grapes, but we got them before but...


Elena: [00:12:38] It's still a young vine. We just planted recently a few years back, so they're just started to produce.


Zima: [00:12:44] But this year there was so much that I actually made for the first time in my life - I made about a gallon of our own grape juice.


Elena: [00:12:57] It was absolutely delicious.


Zima: [00:12:58] That was absolutely delicious. Objectively speaking, it was just delicious.


Daniel: [00:13:06] Yeah, you can drink that without stopping.


Zima: [00:13:09] Well, you can drink it - and yes... I couldn't stop. I drank the whole gallon without stopping.


Daniel: [00:13:18] Not even for a breath.


Zima: [00:13:23] I'm a big boy.


Daniel: [00:13:26] So you mentioned something interesting - you say that in terms of the things that you don't grow, like specifically the cabbage that you buy organic and local and you mentioned that you're in the Northwest and so the salmon is local. What's the importance - why why do you focus on organic and local? Why not just go for something in the supermarket that's easy to find?


Elena: [00:13:53] Well because - in my opinion and the people, lots of people disagree - but in my opinion, if I can eat fewer chemicals, I would. So if there is - I have an option to buy organic, I would. And that way, I will support people who produce organic food. It's always - it's almost always more expensive to buy at the store than conventionally grown vegetables and fruits. But I do want to give organic farmers a fighting chance. So I try to support local and organic farming and sustainable farming as much as possible.


Daniel: [00:14:40] Is that more for your own personal health than for anything else? I mean, is there any kind of environmental motivation?


Elena: [00:14:47] I think it's both: for our own health and for environment as well. You know, there is nothing good about chemicals running off from the fields into the ocean and our streams. We read left and right and such and such stream or body of water is heavily contaminated with such and such indication or this or that chemical or you know fishes dying off. So there is nothing good comes from that. Chemicals make life easier for farmers, but easier is not always better.


Zima: [00:15:24] A lot of people don't really know what "organic" means but organic means not only not using pesticides, for example, or not using chemicals. Because vegetation does not need chemicals - they either get it from the soil or you can introduce it artificially. But one thing that organic also means - and we like that - is the very - going back to sustainability - it's the usage of the land. Because organic also means that you don't exhaust your land to the degree that it becomes totally unusable, but you rotate. So I like the idea that people - the farmers - are thinking not only caring about the land. Because organic implies that you rotate your crops. And you understand that certain vegetables benefit from growing next to each other. And sometimes they don't benefit from growing next to each other. So a lot of knowledge actually. People don't realize these days, but a lot of - it requires a lot of knowledge to really grow things.


Elena: [00:16:57] And hard work.


Zima: [00:16:58] Right. So that's why we like the idea of organic.


Daniel: [00:17:01] How much of that kind of thought process from organic and crop rotation - I know that you know you're not like an actual full scale farm but - how many of those kind of ideas do you put to practice in your own garden?


Zima: [00:17:16] I like the idea of composting and we're almost religious about this - whatever we compost - only the vegetation stuff, like vegetables or greens. But almost religious. It's like I want to make sure that none of the compostable stuff goes into the regular garbage. It's like sometimes I fish it out from our - by mistake, if by mistake we put it into regular garbage, I will take it out and put it into our special bag for composting. Because I just like the idea of producing our own soil, if you will, without using any outside chemicals.


Elena: [00:18:03] Well in the garden, we also use a lot of beneficial insects. Even if we don't have our own, we would buy at the store ladybugs and praying mantis and other things and release it in our garden to combat the pests. Because if there is food, there are always pests and if you don't do something - the easiest way is to spray, of course - but then you introduce chemicals that will kill the beneficial insects as well, like honey bees and bumblebees and others. So we do use natural insects, like ladybugs, just like I said. And this year for the first time we're going to use mason bees and leaf cutter bees in our garden. We just bought a few bee houses. So we do look at nature and learn from that.


Zima: [00:19:06] It's a very natural transition to our chickens. Because there are two things that our chickens do. First of all it's like because our chickens are free ranging, it's like a running fertilizer. You know, they run around and they really fertilize the ground and - sometimes we don't like it - but they actually aerate the ground because they dig things out. But they also help with pest control because they eat a lot of bugs. And so in that sense, we have our own ecosystem that is self-supported and self-maintained because we grow our stuff, we have our chickens, which are taking care of bugs, and then we have the eggs. And I have to say, the eggs from our chickens is something that - we've had our chickens for at least four years. We cannot still get enough of our eggs. Meaning, we love our eggs. Like every time we eat them, we keep saying you cannot - and it's absolutely true - you cannot get eggs like this from a store. Starting from the taste and ending with the color of the yolk.


Daniel: [00:20:40] When you go let's say on vacation somewhere and you go to the hotel and they have scrambled eggs or sunny side up there can you instantly see and taste the difference?


Elena: [00:20:53] Not only do we notice, but we try not to order eggs when we go anywhere.


Daniel: [00:20:58] Right, that makes sense. Going back to the bees because I think they are very misunderstood insect. So it's really interesting to hear that you're getting bee houses or bee hives with the mason bees and the leaf cutter bees - what's their purpose?


Elena: [00:21:13] To pollinate. To pollinate fruits and veggies and flowers. And this - we all know that right now the honey bees are disappearing and dying off and that's a very big problem. It's a catastrophic problem. So we do plant lots of flowers that bees love and that try to attract as many bees and butterflies to our garden as possible. And for example, this year we had all our fruit trees were flowering beautifully and there was an abundance of our flowers on trees. But because we didn't have enough bees to pollinate them, we ended up with very few fruits on our trees. So this year we're going to - we're not going to wait for bees to arrive at our house, we are going to have our own bees in our own houses so they can start pollinating as soon as flowers open on trees.


Zima: [00:22:22] This year was - I mean the last spring and last summer - it was a bit disappointing because, as Elena said, we had so much flowering and blooming going on. Our plum trees and apricot trees were absolutely - because we have quite a few of them - they were absolutely covered with flowers.


Elena: [00:22:49] Gorgeous...


Zima: [00:22:51] Like Completely. Like a Japanese garden. And then, at the end, we ended up really only with like 10 pieces of fruit. Absolutely delicious because they were ours. But that's what led us to Elena actually saying that we should get our own bees because there was no cross pollination going on.


Daniel: [00:23:15] That's incredible. So you're actually seeing in your own home the negative effects of the declining bee population.


Zima: [00:23:24] Yeah. yeah absolutely.


Daniel: [00:23:26] First of all, do these ones make any honey. Second of all why specifically mason and leaf cutter?


Elena: [00:23:31] So the thing is, honey bees do produce honey; the mason bees the leaf cutters do not produce honey. However, to have honey bees, it is a lot of work and it is in our plans to eventually get honey bees, but not at this stage because they do require a lot of care and supervision. Mason bees are much better pollinators than honey bees. Honey bees - the way they get the honey is that they bring the pollen into the beehive. So they put it in the pockets - the small pockets - on their tiny legs and then it carry to their on to the house. And mason bees do not do that. So mason bees do not gather the pollen into the pockets - they actually bring it on the tiny hairs all over their body. So every time when the mason bee visits the flower, the whole body get covered in pollen and then it goes to the next flower and the next flower. So that way, they're actually 95 percent more effective pollinators than honey bees.


Zima: [00:24:56] I didn't know that. It's like Elena quite a few times educates me on these things. I didn't know these things about the bees. I simply thought that mason bees - that they simply don't produce honey and that was it.


Daniel: [00:25:18] Right exactly. But there are plans in the future, at some point, to have honeybees.


Elena: [00:25:23] Yes, absolutely. I grew up, when I was a little girl, my grandfather when he retired, he became a beekeeper. So he would have 40, 50 bee hives and he would take me with him to take care of them. I had made a special uniform when I was a little girl and he would teach me about bees and show me how it's done. Of course, I was little and don't remember much but it's in my blood. It's absolutely in our plans.


Daniel: [00:25:53] To switch to a different topic because the one thing that you don't do in your home or in your garden is grow any sort of animals for meat. The meat you purchase from neighbors.


Elena: [00:26:03] That's correct.


Daniel: [00:26:04] You get half a cow, and then you also buy a whole pig at a time. That's a lot of meat. Why do you get so much? Where does it come from and why do you choose to go about doing it that way rather than, again, just going to the store and buying a couple of packs of whatever you need for the week?


Elena: [00:26:23] Well I think it's definitely many reasons for that. First of all, I do believe in raising animals humanely. I would rather have a cow that spend its life enjoying the sun and grass versus in a feedlot. So I do care about that. They are part of ecosystems. You know - they bring something - you know - a cow bring something to nature and nature give something to cows and the land and all of that. And so. And the flavor. You cannot beat the flavor of grass-fed cow versus the cow that was never seen the sunlight. We do want to support local farmers and people who care about the farming as much as we are. It takes a community to be successful. And the reason we buy by the freezer is it is more economical. It preserves well for a year. You don't feel - you don't taste any difference. And it's more economical to save money and time. So every time I want to cook I don't have to go and look for a specific cut at the store. I just open my freezer and get something out of there.


Zima: [00:27:50] Right. And another thing is because we are buying directly from the farmers that we know, it's just easier for them to sell it in big quantities to us because they are not set up to do retail. But one thing that I also wanted to - you mentioned something which to me is really important: why don't we grow our own? Well, there are some practical reasons, of course, because our property is not that big. But there is another much bigger reason at least for me. All of our animals, including chickens, they are our friends. Like every chicken is named and I can not eat our friends, let alone kill our friends. In fact, it took me a long time - Elena convinced me actually to try the eggs from our chicken friends. But after I tried I quickly developed the taste for -


Elena: [00:29:03] Appreciation for friends.


Zima: [00:29:04] That's right now I appreciate chickens.


Daniel: [00:29:06] And now you know what friends are for.


Zima: [00:29:09] Yes, we're friends and we have their benefits. But, a little story. Many years ago when we met these farmers from whom we buy the meat, we visited them and they asked us if we want to meet our cow. And I was horrified at the suggestion and the idea so the answer was absolutely no. Because I'm still too much of a city dweller I guess just to treat - there is a part of me that - I just prefer not to know these things. But I am a meat lover and eater and so is Elena so we do eat it.


Elena: [00:30:06] Yeah. So. But we do appreciate what our farmers do for us and it just - you know there are different kinds of farming, different kind of people. Some people can deal with - you know - harvesting their own animals, some people can't and we prefer not to. But we do appreciate that someone else can, and gives the livestock really wonderful lives. They saying - you know - happy cows or happy chickens, happy eggs. And we are what our animals eat. So it's very important how they're taking care of. So we do want to make sure that our chickens eat wonderful food and all the bugs and grass and has access to all the goodness because that's what they put out in the egg and that's what we eat. That's where the flavor comes from. And the same with cows. It's what they eat, that's what we eat. And in addition to that is - again going back into our cultures - we do cook quite a bit of offal meat that is not readily available in the supermarkets. So you know, tongue and liver - I mean liver is more probably available now - but there are you know certain things that American culture - especially probably on the West Coast and East Coast are not very exposed to. So there is very limited availability. You can find certain things in ethnic stores, but you know it's hard and especially when you're far away from ethnic stores. But having farmers as friends definitely helps.


Zima: [00:31:54] To me this was very interesting, culturally. It does not directly have to do with us growing our own stuff, but it's interesting how the American culture, over the years, is trying to get away from connecting the way the food naturally looks to sort of being totally unrecognizable. And because of that, a lot of children, for example, cannot really relate when they eat meat. There is absolutely nothing in the way the meat is sold - especially if it's prepared meat - they absolutely don't connect it to the original meat. But it's also interesting like if you go to anywhere in Europe if you go to the meat section - and I'm not even talking about places like Asian countries - but in Europe, you go to the meat section, you will see a lot of not only different cuts, but you will see internal organs, for example, being sold because that's what European cuisine still uses. But in the United States, you go to a meat department or a deli department, you pretty much will see a bunch of variations on chicken or turkey breast.


Elena: [00:33:30] And amazingly enough - speaking about farming - this year was the first time that I purchased for Thanksgiving a turkey that was raised locally. So a heritage breed. And it was not frozen - it was actually fresh. It was chilled, but not frozen. It was much more expensive than a regular turkey, obviously. It looked completely different because that turkey was pasture-raised. So it didn't have that huge breast that we're accustomed to on turkeys. But it was remarkable because the flavor - I've never tasted a turkey of that flavor ever in my life.


Zima: [00:34:15] Yeah, it was absolutely absolutely amazing.


Elena: [00:34:18] It was absolutely amazing: the flavor, the juiciness, the tenderness of the meat, amazingly enough. I don't think I will ever go back to regular turkeys and buy it for Thanksgiving. I mean, you can't just be the flavor of that.


Daniel: [00:34:34] I personally don't like turkey specifically because I find it far too dry.


Elena: [00:34:39] Yeah, because you've never tasted the turkey as it was intended to - the heritage breed. It has nothing to do with what we are used to in this culture.


Zima: [00:34:52] Daniel, I just remembered two other things that has to do with things we do ourselves. For a few years in a row, we've been making our own soap. We really enjoyed it. And there was a reason why we were making our own soap: because we wanted to use one hundred percent, absolutely organic ingredients. So that was a lot of fun. We stopped doing it because it's very labor-intensive. But we absolutely enjoyed it and we learned quite a bit.


Zima: [00:35:30] But the second thing I wanted to say was - and again, I learned most of these things from Elena - I don't know where Elena learned it from - I hope she will not say that she learns it from me. But for the first time this year, we had a lot of garlic. So I have to say that our whole property is vampire-free this year. Elena actually taught me how to braid the garlic. I was always wondering how do people braid the garlic? You know, you can buy these braids.


Daniel: [00:36:17] Yeah.


Zima: [00:36:18] So it turns out that you leave the garlic for like a few months. It sits in the ground and it becomes bigger and bigger and bigger. Then like after a couple of months, you dig it out and you dry it and then you braid them into these braids.


Daniel: [00:36:44] Is it the leaves that your braiding or it's the little kind of?


Elena: [00:36:47] It's the stem and leaves.


Zima: [00:36:49] What you braid, as it turns out, is - garlic in some ways is similar to the onions. The green part of the onion, the scallions, garlic has the same thing - and by the way, it's very delicious when garlic is green, instead of scallions you can use the green part of the garlic, it's delicious. But if you let garlic sit in your garden, That's what your braid: these scallion parts.


Daniel: [00:37:21] That's very cool. If you had a magic wand and you could basically just magically turn your house into the perfect farm or homestead or whatever you want to call it but you could have whatever you want. Where would you be living and what would it look like?


Zima: [00:37:40] So I will start because my list, I am sure, will be shorter. What I would like to have - and Elena I actually talk about this quite a bit - I would like to have a few milk cows, perhaps sheep, so that we could make our own cheese in the hopefully sell it.


Daniel: [00:38:04] Oh wow.


Zima: [00:38:05] That would be my dream. Elena?


Elena: [00:38:09] My turn? Well, pretty much the same. I think we are on the same page it would be farm with multiple animals, but not meat production. It would be goats, cows, sheep, eggs definitely, ducks. I don't think I would go with a pig because pigs usually are for meat only - that's not what I would at least not at this stage - that's not what I would do. I would love to have a large vegetable farm and fruit farm, orchards. And not only for us, but obviously if we have lots of land and we can plant it, I would probably donate it or sell to the community or donate or have people come over and learn about farming. I would love to have a small kitchen where you can cook and people come over and eat from what we grow in the garden. You know, like a small restaurant or cafe.


Zima: [00:39:12] Yeah I would love this. I really like this idea.


Elena: [00:39:12] Our own cheeses and perhaps a soap store. You know, so just like as much of a homestead life as possible, but I do want to share it - I would want to share it with people. It wouldn't be only, you know, fields of cabbage and that's it. I would love to have different things planted and cook and introduce people to different flavors that they've never tried before in their life.


Zima: [00:39:39] And we like we - I think maybe it's because we're getting older, I don't know, but I think we always were this way - we actually like doing things the old fashioned or traditional way. For example, we have a pizza oven at home - we're just lucky to have a pizza oven - like a true wood-burning pizza oven. We like cooking in the pizza oven and we cook different things there simply because, again, it's sort of going back to the roots, if you will. Because in the modern world, we are all trying to rush and save time and you sometimes sacrifice the quality by doing this. We are trying to - in this particular case - we are trying to slow down and just really do it the way people used to do it for thousands of years.


Daniel: [00:40:43] I think that's very important, and it's like you say, the world really is getting faster and faster and technology is constantly coming out to do things more efficiently, more effectively to remove as much of the manual processes as possible.


Elena: [00:41:01] I remember a funny story with our own daughter, Kathrin. She was already in high school, if not in college, and she saw for the first time I planted corn. And for the first time she actually saw how corn grows. And it was - you know - she was shocked because she didn't think that's how it grew and I was shocked because it didn't occur to me that a child - you know almost an adult - and never seen how corn grows. Because she was always so removed being a city child. And you know it's very sad often because in today's world children, as we said in our culture in United States where we live right now, children are so far away from the garden that they - you know - I'm surprised that they know that chickens lay eggs.


Zima: [00:41:56] Right or talking about eggs, a lot of adults, especially males - men - don't understand just like I didn't know - I am one of these people - I didn't realize that in order for a chicken to lay eggs - I didn't realize that you don't need a rooster.


Elena: [00:42:21] Yeah, we don't need you, men.


Zima: [00:42:23] That's right. I absolutely was confused when Elena said that we will have chickens for eggs but we will have no rooster. My question was, "Well how is it going to happen?".


Elena: [00:42:41] It's about birds and bees!


Zima: [00:42:41] But I do want to echo something that Elena just said. I think these days, a lot of people not only the kids, but just a lot of people don't know the simplest things. For example, how does grain get converted - what is grain? Like, how do you make bread? Wheat grows in the field, but then there is whole process of making - like getting the grain. And then of course, making ultimately dough. But just this whole process from the field to the table, most of the people don't understand and don't know and can not relate to. So I think it's in many ways, it's sad that it's lost because people just don't know these things anymore.


Daniel: [00:43:41] I agree with that. I think you see it a lot more, especially in the cities, when you walk around and - I mean everywhere now there is all these fast food places and they completely remove that entire process from the end-product that people end up consuming. Do you have any books that you could recommend that people can look through to get started and learning about these things?


Elena: [00:44:11] Honestly, no. I do get my knowledge from magazines you know that come out - periodics - and a lot of that is from Internet. I'm sure there are lots of books - you know you can read about that - but I do find that there are so many websites and sources that you can do without books.


Zima: [00:44:35] But one thing that Elena is very - she's not mentioning it - but a lot of it in Elena's case is she knows a lot of this stuff because, again as we said, we grew up with this. So, for Elena especially in many ways going back to.


Elena: [00:45:00] My memories.


Zima: [00:45:01] To her memories and just knowing what to do.


Daniel: [00:45:05] And perhaps fine tuning through the Internet.


Zima: [00:45:07] Right. Exactly.


Daniel: [00:45:09] Makes sense. And Zima do you have any any books or anything that you like to read?


Zima: [00:45:16] Well, not not in particular. I know it may sound funny, but I actually like reading cookbooks, especially the ones that talk about vegetables and when they really describe why certain things are done certain way when you cook things.


Daniel: [00:45:43] Yeah.


Zima: [00:45:45] To me, it's very motivating because the way - I don't have any - I have some books, but nothing specifically to recommend. But to me it's very motivational because when I read about these things - when I read how important it is for things to be fresh, when you read about simple things like how to make a salad, and the dressing is as simple as just some lemon juice with some fresh garlic and some herbs from your garden. And how you toss in the leaves from your garden, and tomatoes and cucumbers. To me, it's very motivational and that's what I immediately want to do. I almost like feel - yes, I am getting too excited right now.


Daniel: [00:46:41] Great. I think that's a really great place to end and I think it's motivational and you read about ways that you can cook just by stepping outside your front door. Rather than having to go to the store and find all these things, knowing that it all exists just a few steps away.


Zima: [00:46:59] Yes and it's very rewarding. It's literally nothing beats - when you literally eat the fruit of your labor.


Daniel: [00:47:09] One hundred percent. Thank you both very much for your time. I thought this was very interesting and I really enjoyed the conversation.


Elena: [00:47:17] Thank you, Daniel.


Zima: [00:47:19] It was fun.


Daniel: [00:47:21] So there you have it. Thanks for listening. I hope you found that as interesting as I did. I'd love to hear your thoughts on growing your own food. So please leave a comment and share this episode with anyone you think would enjoy it. Until next time!

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • RSS Social Icon
  • Spotify Social Icon

© 2020 by Sustainability Matters Today