Edible gardening

I’ll be brief because I’m finding it hard to spend much time in front of a screen these days. If there’s ever a time to cultivate food literacy and learn how to grow our own food, it’s now, especially in the face of COVID-19. The psychological and physical health benefits of spending time in nature are well-documented. Also, you know who doesn’t have to disinfect their produce before they eat it? Backyard edible gardeners, that’s who!

Here’s a few tips if you’re new to growing and not sure how to get started, but keep an eye on my Gardening and Urban Agriculture resource page for more information.

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Sunflowers and more in a Portland garden

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I’m over-the-moon excited to have pictures from my home garden featured on Fine Gardening magazine’s website today.

As many gardeners know, growing is a year-round job (we’re planning and cleaning up, even in winter) and we don’t often get a chance to share. Often, we’re alone when we experience those magical moments….the sight of a hummingbird or dragonfly hovering near a flower bed; the first lush harvest of spring greens; the ripening rose of a tomato; the crinkled tips of kale, waving for your attention and just visible beneath the snow.

And sunflowers – don’t get me started. Next to daffodils, toddlers, and puppies, I think they’re some of the happiest things on earth. Read More

Coping during COVID-19

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Greetings, friends. There’s a lot going on in our world, isn’t there? If you’re reading this, I’m glad you’re here and I hope something in this post will serve you.

By now, I hope you’ve accessed the latest science-based recommendations about how to minimize the transmission of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. I highly recommend you check out this article from the American Psychological Association, which includes coping tips as well as links to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Read More

What is food literacy?

Over my past seventeen years as a psychotherapist, I’ve helped individuals navigate a myriad of physical and mental health struggles and delivered a variety of research-supported interventions. I’ve also maintained a long-standing passion for health education, both as a tool for recovery and a preventative measure.

In this next chapter that I’ve named The SAVOR Project, I’m bringing what I’ve learned as a psychologist to the (literal and figurative) table to promote a more positive, connected  relationship with food. And the journey begins with mindful food literacy, which can be broadly defined as the ability to access, choose, process, and enjoy food.  

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You’ll find me at the community garden

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This month, I’m officially entering phase one of The SAVOR Project! I’ve secured a plot at Ridgewood Park, a SW Portland community garden, and over the next few seasons, I’ll use this space as a demo garden to highlight the benefits of interacting with and cultivating an urban edible garden. It will also serve as the meeting place for a number of low-cost public offerings through The SAVOR Project’s “outdoor school” workshop series. Most of what I harvest from this plot will be given away to workshop participants and the Produce for People Program. Read More

A new planting year begins

It’s that time again. I’m clearing out the vegetable beds closest to our house. I’m rinsing out my  germination flats with bleach, and filling them with seedling mix. I’m fondling seed packets, and paging through piles of seed catalogs.

What will I grow? How will it go? How can I work with nature, and what is beyond my control?

So much. So much is beyond my control. It’s dizzying, it’s terrifying, what’s beyond my control.

And on some levels, it’s simplifying. Thanks to the lessons I’m learning as a student of therapeutic horticulture, I’m recognizing better the parallels between daily life and gardening.

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SAVOR’s resolutions

When I retired from my clinical role in 2019, I’d spent over fifteen years counseling clients on a variety of concerns, with a long-standing specialty in mindfulness-based eating disorder treatment. Training in self-compassionate awareness led individuals to develop a more positive relationship with food and their bodies.

Also, I adore food. I love growing, cooking, eating, reading, and talking about it.  Food is my love language. I’m at my happiest when I’m helping others reclaim their birthright of pleasure and connection with food.

So, in the face of the typical New Year’s resolutions that often focus upon what we shouldn’t be eating, and all of the associated “dangers” of food, I’ve put together this short list.

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The scoop on savoring practices

From Embracing the Good, a chapter in the Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook (Neff & Germer, 2018):

“Savoring involves noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of life – taking them in, letting them linger, and then letting them go. It is more than pleasure – savoring involves mindful awareness of the experience of pleasure…” (p.161)

Let’s be honest. How often do we miss opportunities to savor because our minds are nowhere to be found? To be distracted, to wake up breathing this morning (hooray!) and yet to find ourselves pulled in a hundred directions before our feet hit the floor – welcome to the experience of being human. So it’s for good reason that we call this the practice of mindfulness, the practice of mindful eating, the practice of savoring. Guess what? We get our whole lives to strengthen these skills.  Read More

Random thoughts on The Biggest Little Farm

Thanks to my Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) training over the past couple of years, I’m quicker to reach for self-care strategies when I’m feeling bereft and hopeless. Instead of “checking out” (like I did last night), I look for opportunities to pause, and re-connect. What always sustains me is nature, especially edible gardening, cooking, and food stories. 

I’ve been meaning to watch The Biggest Little Farm for quite a while, so I dove in this morning. What follows is not really a coherent blog post but rather a series of thoughts that arose. Read More