Having direct access to a garden helps a cook stay in tune with the food she prepares. It doesn’t have to be grand—it can be something as simple as a window box full of herbs or a small terrace with a few pots of lettuces and tomatoes. It’s the idea of taking something that you’ve grown, harvesting it, and using it in a dish that you prepare to bring the experience of cooking full circle.
We have a growing organic kitchen potager in the country where we grow our own vegetables, lettuces, and herbs in small raised beds, favoring heirloom varieties and including roquette (arugula), leeks, green beans, peas, fava beans, radishes, artichokes, squash, cucumbers, and even raspberries, all that we use in our cooking classes during the season. In the warmer months, our garden becomes an outdoor living room of sorts, and we often spend Sundays there, planting, weeding, or harvesting. We are big believers in composting, both for the sake of the soil and as a way to recycle leftover food. We keep old stone crocks on the kitchen counter to gather up scraps, like vegetable peels and eggshells, during the cooking classes, and transfer everything to a big bin that we take back to the garden to compost.
We enjoy spending time in the garden and feel it is very important for our little ones to have an understanding of where their food comes from and to be participants in the process. It is a lesson that we are happy to cultivate.