Inspiration is such a big part of being a gardener — seeking it out, providing it, experiencing it, absorbing it and igniting what you see in your own garden space. When you land in a space that you connect with, you just know it. You can feel it and you start to spin with ideas of ways you can bring it into your backyard.
If you ever find your way to Carmel Valley in central California, Earthbound Farms is a must-see stop for your gardening soul. The name no doubt rings a bell — their organically grown produce is in grocery stores everywhere. Their headquarters is also a farm stand and cafe, as well as a experiential garden/farm. It’s right off Highway 1, a few miles east of Carmel-by-the-Sea, which also is a treat for the gardener, so consider making a day out of lunch and learning and laying in the baking valley sun at Earthbound Farms, then pop over to Carmel for all the splendor it has to offer, then head south a few miles to Point Lobos State Park for a few hours of heaven on earth. And I’ll just say it. If your are a kooky garden sort, you will feel so at home in central California!
And you’ll really feel at home at Earthbound Farms. So, the salad bar is worth the trip alone — greens and root vegetables and great hippie-food that is so fresh it tastes minutes from being in the ground. Honestly, the beets I ate were a perfect mouthful of earth and sweetness and crunch. The kale tasted verdant green. Yes, green is a taste! The zucchini and sweet potato bread was lovely with with real butter (thank goodness). But great sweets are a dime-a-dozen. Garden produce that tastes alive and still growing a little as it hits your tongue is the highlight.
When you’re done eating, stroll the grounds. It’s pretty much like being on a farm. You can read the signs and learn lots about what constitutes “organic,” what makes up soil, what earthworms do for us and how to attract butterflies. You can witness the workings of the kitchen garden and how the edible plants play nice with each other. The helpful tips and good advice is splayed all over, but what you really get is the whole vital connection to the earth that sustains us. The connection that we are so dependent on and though the farm embraces it with big strong hugs, there is definitely still a fragility of nature present. A tenuousness in the delicate balance. The earth reigns as Queen and her bounty, little jewels she offers us, and places like this remind us just how precious and perhaps fleeting this is.