Thanks for stopping by.
I am Rachel, gardener, writer, recipe developer, and photographer behind Grow a Good Life.
We believe in a simple, frugal, and sustainable lifestyle, and we are getting back to basics, growing a fruit and vegetable garden, cooking from scratch, preserving the harvest, and keeping a small flock of backyard chickens. We are sharing what we have learned to inspire everyone to Grow a Good Life.
Gardening is in My Blood
I grew up in a small town in New England where my parents and extended family tended several vegetable gardens on our property. My grandparents and great aunt did a lot of the work in the gardens and preserved the harvest. My mother always cooked balanced meals for us that must have included garden vegetables. However, while growing up I never really thought about where my food came from. I was a fussy eater and remember hating most vegetables.
I have early childhood memories of pestering my grandfather with my endless chatter as he planted the garden, hoed weeds, cut small saplings to use for pole beans, and edged the garden. I didn’t share in the chores of gardening or really learn how to garden from my elders through direct instructions. I guess I was too busy to pay attention. Even so, the seed was planted.
As a young adult I lived in apartments and grew fresh herbs and attempted to grow some vegetables in pots while dreaming of a future in a home of my own with a yard and a vegetable garden. Finally, I was able to purchase a home on a few acres in a rural Maine.
Our property came with a small vegetable garden, overgrown Concord grape vines, neglected apple trees, a pear tree, weedy flower gardens, and a mixture of raspberries and blackberries behind the shed. It was a nice beginning.
I’ve been gardening on this property for about 15 years and currently have around 500 square feet of garden space. Our garden is located in zone 5, Maine. I use a mix of sustainable gardening methods including Square Foot Gardening, Vertical Gardening, and Grow Biointensive. I also love researching and exploring other methods, tips, and ideas shared by fellow bloggers.
We have expanded the garden a little each year, added raised beds, planted raspberries, tamed the grape vines, trimmed the apple trees, and blueberry bushes. Each year we try to add another element that allows us to become more self-sufficient.
For me, gardening began as a hobby to provide some fresh vegetables to add to salads or enjoy during the growing season. I found it so rewarding to grow so much food from just a handful of seed. Each year the garden expanded as I increased the amount of vegetables planted to replace our reliance on supermarket produce departments.
Gardening has progressed to provide substantial food to feed our household. I now grow sufficient amount tomatoes to preserve enough sauce and salsa to last us as year. I have at least a year’s supply of jarred string beans and carrots stored on shelves in our basement. I can my own grape juice, jellies, pickles, and applesauce. In addition, I freeze peppers, blueberries, raspberries, and other bounty from the property. In my basement storage you will also find enough potatoes, garlic, and onions to last until spring.
At the end of May 2013 we added seven fluffy day old chicks to the homestead. With very little building knowledge or skills, we managed to construct a coop and pen and provide the girls with a safe and dry place to live. The goal was fresh eggs, manure to add to the compost bin, and a little bug control. I discovered quickly that chickens were a lot of fun to have around. They have their own individual personalities and are a constant source of entertainment.
Preserving the Harvest
Here at Grow a Good Life, you will also discover ways to put homegrown fruit, herbs, and vegetable harvests to good use with delicious, fresh from the garden recipes. With an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs available just steps away from the kitchen, it is fun to explore ways to preserve the harvest and develop recipes that allows the harvest to shine.
Cooking from Scratch
You will also find simple recipes, kitchen tips, and inspiration to help you cook budget-friendly meals from scratch so you can enjoy good food with your family. Since most of us don’t have time to spend in the kitchen, my recipes are organized, easy to follow, and come together with minimal effort. I use easy to find ingredients that can be purchased in your local grocery store, farmers market, or online.
Since I live in New England and come from Italian and French-Canadian roots, many of my recipes are influenced by this region and heritage. However, I also love exploring cuisines from around the world and strive to match the flavors of meals from my favorite dinner parties and restaurants. I am an avid collector of vintage cookbooks and love old time recipes that made the most out of common and locally sourced ingredients.
Food is nourishing, tastes good, and has a history. I often explore the origin of a recipe and various ways of preparing it before tweaking it to fit the time crunched, busy lifestyle that we find ourselves in. My goal is to encourage you to cook from scratch using good quality ingredients rather than rely on unhealthy fast food or packaged convenience foods with mystery ingredients.
My recipes are developed and tested at least three times before publishing, so you can be sure that your dish will come together if you follow the process. The recipes shared are ones that I often make in my home kitchen, so they are also re-tested frequently.
The Journey to Grow A Good Life
You Too Can Grow a Good Life!
The journey to Growing a Good Life begins with one step…one act…one decision that can lead you to a more fulfilling lifestyle of self-sufficiency, control over the foods you eat, and the overall quality of life that you live.
You don’t need a lot of acreage to begin. Simply grow some lettuce greens and herbs in containers to start. I promise you, these will taste so good that you will want to grow more.
I am writing this blog to document our progress, share tips and techniques, and encourage everyone to Grow a Good Life!