Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

HOME IS WHERE THE FOOD IS: Jon and his young family just moved from Georgia to Ontario last year, but that hasn’t kept them from putting down roots. (Speaking of roots, check out Jon’s song on the subject.) Instead, they dove into their new community: buying, growing, cooking, eating, biking, and brewing local. It’s a philosophy Jon challenges all of us to embrace. What about it, HOMEGROWN. You in?

What is Meet Your Neighbors? Most of us spend a fair amount of time tending our online gardens, but it’s easy to forget there’s a real person behind every quiche recipe, chicken inquiry, and hoophouse design here on HOMEGROWN. Well, nuts to that! MYN gives us a chance to meet over the back fence and shake hands. (Or maybe hug? We’re huggers. But no pressure.)

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Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on April 22, 2013 at 12:42pm

Good afternoon, Jon! Thanks for agreeing to spend part of it with HOMEGROWN. To start us off, could you give us a little context? Remind us where you are, how long you’ve been there, how you ended up there, and where you came from. (You know, just your entire life story in a nutshell.)

Comment by Jonathan Spee on April 22, 2013 at 1:02pm

Hi, it’s great to be here!  My family and I moved this past winter from Atlanta, GA to Kitchener, ON.  My wife is Canadian and I am American and we were ready to live in her country so when she got a job offer in the fall we decided the time was right so we moved ourselves and our two young boys (ages 3 and 1) and started a new life here!  I can’t look for jobs until I get residency but I’m loving my new stay-at-home life and all the great time I get to spend with my family!

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on April 22, 2013 at 1:06pm

And I bet they love all of the time they get to spend with you, too—not to mention all of the awesome projects they're benefiting from! Since your relocation, it sounds like you’ve had your finger in all kinds of HOMEGROWN pies, from hoop houses to hot pots. What ties your DIY to-do list together? Food?

Comment by Jonathan Spee on April 22, 2013 at 1:15pm

Well, at first our older son kept saying “but I want Momma to stay home and Dadda to go to work.”  He hasn’t said that for a couple months now so I feel better about how things are going!  Anyways, I would say that what ties everything together for me is “local.”  I love living a local lifestyle, walking places, riding my bike with the boys in the trailer, eating at unique local restaurants, and especially buying (and growing) local foods to cook and bake with.  I know there are many environmental benefits that come from living more locally but on a daily basis what I really enjoy is how it makes my life more unique and a little bit more challenging.  For me having a challenge is good and it keeps me striving to improve whatever I can in my life and in the world around me.

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on April 22, 2013 at 1:21pm

What a great attitude to have in a new place. Has that local focus helped you settle into a new town and a new country? Any regional food specialties you've grown especially fond of? (After all, as we say here at HOMEGROWN HQ: Everybody eats.)

Comment by Jonathan Spee on April 22, 2013 at 1:32pm

I think the local focus has definitely helped us settle in because right away we’ve gotten connected with tons of like-minded people and made a quite a few new friends already!  We keep running into the same people at different events around town and it feels so nice to be in a place where lots of people live the way we do and appreciate simple living and great local food.  In terms of regional foods I’m starting to enjoy sauerkraut... but the winner for me is beets.  Beets are extremely abundant here and they are my absolute favorite veggie now, and I’ve been putting them in everything—even a homebrewed ale I recently made!  (I realize my feelings about beets may change when fresh backyard tomatoes are available, but I can only speak to my present situation). 

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on April 22, 2013 at 1:38pm

Mmmm, beets. (We should take this opportunity to mention that folks can follow Jon's meal planning and cooking—including how to make this mouth-watering beet dish—on his awesomely and appropriately named blog, The Local Kitchener.) And speaking of like-minded folks, are there any lessons connected to food or living local that you’re hoping to pass along to your brood? Judging from your photo, it looks like you've already got one family member who likes picking—or at least eating—blueberries.

Comment by Jonathan Spee on April 22, 2013 at 1:50pm

I would say that everyone can eat locally and that it really is no more difficult than not eating local, it just takes a shift in how you plan.  I started my blog because I couldn’t find too many blogs that were providing what I wanted—local meal plans!  Unfortunately the problem with a local meal plan is that it’s just that—local.  Therefore, I hope that all over North America people start eating locally and then sharing their plans for the week to help others get a sense of what eating local looks like and to get inspiration for their own lives. 

And yes, my boys love fruit, they don’t contribute much to the final amounts we take home in containers, but they do go home nice and full!

And thank you for the blog-compliments!  It's great to get such nice feedback!

Comment by HOMEGROWN.org on April 22, 2013 at 1:55pm

All right, HOMEGROWN types: Jon has hereby challenged us to shop, grow, cook, and blog local! Are we gonna rise to the task or what? Jon, thanks for serving as our all-local poster boy—and thanks, too, for chatting this afternoon. We know naptime only lasts so long, so just one last question: What's for dinner at your house tonight?

Comment by Jonathan Spee on April 22, 2013 at 2:02pm

Thank you for hosting and for all the thoughtful questions and comments!  For dinner tonight we are actually making two meals—the boys are having an early meal of homemade hamburger helper (with local lamb sausage, so is it really hamburger helper??) before our older son and I go to his swim lesson, and then quite a bit later my wife and I are going to make Carrot & Ricotta Ravioli with homemade ricotta!  Should be good, pics to follow….

And yes, naptime will shortly be ending and when it does we're going outside to check our young seedlings in the cold frame and hoop house.  It was great chatting with you, thank you again and enjoy your day!


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