My friend, Heidi Barr, whom I met through contributing to the We Are Wildness blog, fully embodies what it means to live among the roots. She is a naturalist, adventurer, mother, and wellness coach who pours her passion for the earth and her knowledge of how to live sustainably and ethically in to her new book, Prairie Grown.
Prairie Grown is two parts recipe and one part story. Part memoir, part cookbook – it’s a glimpse into how life unfolds on a small organic vegetable farm in eastern South Dakota over the course of a calendar year. As the winter melts into spring, and spring blossoms into summer, and summer fades into autumn, and autumn falls asleep under winter’s blanket, it is a walk through the history, cultivation, growth, community, and preservation that comes about when we live close to the earth.
Heidi grew up at Hillside Prairie Gardens, the certified organic farm that takes center stage in this book. Her earliest memories are of sitting out back in the garden eating peppers, finding strawberries under huge leaves that seemed to go on forever, and shelling peas into an enormous bowl on the back porch with her mother. Now Heidi spend most of her free time out in her own organic garden with her four year old in tow, aiming to give her the opportunity to create her own memories of growing up as a partner with the land. Heidi’s hope is that readers of Prairie Grown find their own inspiration to enhance or cultivate their own connection to the earth in the form of the food that they eat, and in doing so firm up the roots that our planet needs to thrive.
One spring afternoon in the mid-1970s, two twenty-somethings stood on a grass-covered prairie hillside and looked out over the wetlands surrounding the Big Sioux River. They imagined what could be, someday. The wind whipped around their legs, and a crow cawed in the distance. With their feet planted firmly on the ground and their future still just a dream, the land spoke to them in a way that they couldn’t ignore. It invited them to stay, to put down roots and to commit their lives to living in community. And they did, and this book is about what happened next. ~Heidi Barr, excerpted from Prairie Grown: Stories and Recipes from a South Dakota Hillside
Hillside Prairie Gardens, is owned by Heidi’s parents, Steve and Mary Kay Helling. It has existed in different capacities for many years, including Farmers Markets, U-picks, and the neighborly trading of goods. Produce from HPG comes to the eater at its freshest, organically certified and free of chemicals, pesticides, and artificial fertilizers of any kind. HPG is USDA Organic certified by MOSA. All of the produce grown is done so without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemicals.
A pure literary and artistic delight, Prairie Grown tugs readers’ heart strings gently, inviting them into the landscape of the Midwest, into a story that quickly feels like home. Inspired by the author’s connection to her family’s land and a deep-felt sense of stewardship, it inspires a deepening of relationship to food, to nature and its cycles, and the sense of well-being that arises from nurturing these connections. So much more than a compilation of recipes, this book offers readers moments of self-reflection, a re-birth of creativity in the garden and home, and an abundance of practical tips and inspirations to bridge these. ~ Lindsey Ruder, Organic Farmer, Herbalist and Yoga Instructor
Prairie Grown is available now from Avenida Books. Visit Prairie Grown for more information about the project, as well as Hillside Prairie Gardens, the subject of the book. And take the eat local challenge!
Heidi Barr lives near the St. Croix River Valley in Minnesota with her husband and daughter where they tend a large organic vegetable garden, explore nature and do their best to live simply.
As a mother, spouse, gardener, and writer, she is committed to cultivating ways of being that are life-giving and sustainable for people, communities and the planet. She loves putting words together to paint pictures of ideas, as well as walking with others as they explore what it means to live well on a finite planet. Hiking through forests and across prairies, wading in streams, digging in the soil and surrounding herself with natural wonder help her stay grounded in reality. Heidi works as a wellness coach and coordinates with yoga studios. teachers and organic farms to offer retreat experiences.
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