It is that time of year again, when the world around us is in bloom and gardeners prepare their land for the upcoming season. Stephanie Sossamon, 29, and her husband Lee, 37, have a long tradition of gardening. Lee's father, grandfather and great-grandfather all had fruit and vegetable gardens. It was a way of life for Lee, and when he married Stephanie, they knew that living off their land was a priority.
With just under 1/4 acre of land at their home, the Sossamons have turned their backyard into a gardener's paradise.
Their garden is 100 square feet of mostly organically grown fruits and vegetables. They have several raised beds with compost purchased locally from Wallace Farm. They grow strawberries, broccoli, sweet peas, turnip greens, lettuce, spinach, squash, tomatoes, green beans, peppers and several herbs.
The Sossamons have always had a small garden, but they became serious when they went on a mission trip to Lithuania in 2008. The villagers lived in small apartments, and each had a tiny plot to plant fruits and vegetables. Without these gardens, they would not have survived. Stephanie recalls an elderly woman who walked with crutches. Despite her challenges, she had the largest garden, because without it she would not eat.
The Sossamons were inspired and decided to take their dedication to the next level. They thought if the villagers of Lithuania could live off small gardens, then they could do it as well.
The Sossamons were also concerned about the chemicals they ingested each day. When Stephanie became pregnant with twins, their decision to grow foods organically was solidified. Twins Maya and Levi, now 3 months old, are happy and healthy.
On April 15 of each year, the Sossamons plant their yearly crop. It takes about six weeks from the time of planting for the crops to be ready to eat. Their favorite way to prepare vegetables is by grilling with a little salt. They are delicious on their own. Stephanie also loves to makes homemade salsa.
At the end of each season, the Sossamons prepare for winter. They can leftover tomatoes and make tomato sauce. They also can vegetable soup and freeze green beans and corn. Although they do supplement throughout the year at grocery stores, the Bradford Store and the Davidson Farmers Market, the majority of vegetables come from their garden. The Sossamons also plant a few cold-weather crops like sweet peas, turnip greens and cabbage.
The Sossamons' advice to new gardeners is to pick a few foods they love and plant those. People always have more motivation to tend their gardens when they love the food they growSome easy vegetables for beginners are lettuce, spinach, squash, radishes and tomatoes.
Gardening also helps to create good air for us to breathe and encourages healthy eating habits.
"It contributes to a better earth for all of us," said Stephanie.
They look forward to enjoying the rewards of their hard work in a few weeks.