Location: Hopewell Junction, New York
Size: 0.1 acres
Gardeners: Ping & Yi-Ying
Established: August 2009
We have been gardening for over 16 years, and it has been quite a rewarding journey that went through different stages in our lives.
Growing up as city kids in Taiwan, we did not have much background in gardening, except that both our fathers seem to have green thumbs which might have affected us subconsciously. We made our first attempt to grow vegetables in 1998 in a community garden at New Paltz (a lovely town close to Poughkeepsie in upstate New York), where we practiced organic gardening using the compost provided by the town. This was the time that we found our common passion in working with soil, watching plants grow from seeds, socializing with other gardeners, and of course admiring the flowers and enjoying the harvest.
After we moved to our house at Hopewell Junction, New York in 2002, we continued to practice organic gardening in our backyard. It was a very challenging experience in the first few years, since the soil was mostly hard landfills with very poor fertility. We spent a huge amount of efforts trying to improve soil by digging and tilling in compost, manure and other commercially available organic fertilizer year after year. Although some progress was made in harvest, we felt that we were putting too much stress on ourselves and on the ecosystem of the soil. We did not see much beauty in the way we gardened, both literally and spiritually. Also, after our first kid was born 2004, we were seriously searching for a lifestyle that is more in sync with nature so that our kid would grow up to respect and enjoy Mother Nature.
Around that time in 2009, we visited Sugarmaple Farm in Catskill, New York and met Mr. Kenji Ban, a Natural Agriculture (NA) farm manager there, and all our previous gardening practice turned history. We were stunned by the peace and beauty of his farm, and immediately fell in love with that piece of heaven on earth. After that visit, we decided to start a new garden in our backyard and create our own version of heaven on earth with NA principles.
Over the past six years or so, we witnessed the evolution of our NA garden from a mere boring piece of grass field to a diversified community of plants and animals full of liveliness and, as it appears, happiness. More importantly, our passion for gardening grew stronger year after year. We still work long hours in the garden during the growing season, but instead of trying to change the growing condition, we try to listen to what nature has to hint us and work with it. We begin to realize that plants, or even nature in general, are not simply passive things that need our babysitting and manipulating. They are much more capable and sophisticated than we think and can certainly teach us valuable lessons. I sometimes even caught myself talking to the plants as if they are my partners in the garden, and it was a wonderful experience.
Through our NA gardening journey, we have not only found a beautiful and rewarding way to grow food, we have also enjoyed a lifestyle to stay physically healthy and spiritually in harmony with nature. We encourage everyone to start your NA lifestyle whenever possible.