As I write this letter, most of my family is gathered in Louisiana to celebrate the life and mourn the death of my grandmother, who passed away peacefully in her bed at the age of 90. Sad that I can’t be there, I’m also grateful that I saved a voicemail from her a couple of years ago, praising a piece of my writing she’d unearthed from one of her many overstuffed bookcases. It was a paper about Polish nationalism in the University of Vermont’s History Review, my very first publication. Amazing, I thought—that she still had it, that she read it again after all these years, that she reached out just to tell me how much she liked it.
As a child of the Depression, thriftiness came naturally to my grandmother, who saved not just mementos, but anything that could be useful again. Her windowsill was crammed with plant cuttings in various stages of root-growth, jar lids filled with seeds she’d dried from watermelons or cantaloupe. Whether it’s a portal into the past or a way to deepen our experience of the present, I keep thinking about the ways that we can make the most out of what we have.
Take the farmers who’ve been growing grapes for centuries without any irrigation except that which naturally falls from the sky. In this issue’s Grow feature, Evan Wiig educates us about the practice of dry farming, historically a great way to capitalize on the rainy winters and dry summers of our Mediterranean climate. He explores why many vineyards have abandoned the longstanding practice, and why a few intrepid others have not.
Then there’s Veronica Herico, who took advantage of a volunteer opportunity at Central Milling’s Artisan Baking Center to learn the techniques that helped her launch Pane di Vero, a small but mighty baking business that she runs out of her parents’ kitchen in Petaluma.
I enjoyed interviewing both her and groundbreaking entrepreneur Carin Luna-Ostaseski, who gave me valuable insight into the gender gap when it comes to financing small businesses (read all about it in the Eat feature).
No political or philosophical phenomenon is off limits to the Imaginists, the theater troupe housed in Santa Rosa’s SOFA neighborhood and the subject of Ursa Born’s delightfully wacky Make feature. And in the spirit of my grandmother’s frugality, Locavore columnist Sheila Shupe demonstrates how our oft-discarded strawberry tops can be turned into beautiful, delicious, and healthy vinegar with just one stir a day.
May this spring bring you ever more opportunities to foster new growth from the bounty that already surrounds you. Thank you for reading.
Jess D. Taylor EDITOR