Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gardens & Food...Food & Gardens...Madison & Johnson

It is no surprise that many of my gardening friends are also foodies and visa versa: these two passions are as perfectly suited to each other as, well, bread and butter. How delicious it was therefore to spend a day with two women representing the best of both worlds!  Wendy Johnson, a founder of the Green Gulch garden & farm, and Deborah Madison, founder of Greens restaurant, met Sunday at Commonweal in Bolinas for a conversation with each other and an audience of 25 or so amateur and professional gardeners and chefs.

Having "grown up" together at the San Francisco Zen Center, these women have such a shared history that it was remarkable to have them discover new things about each other before our very eyes and ears. For the first half of the five hour retreat Wendy "interviewed" Deborah about her years running the Green Gulch kitchen, her apprenticeship with Alice Waters, the opening of Greens and, in general, what inspires her culinary passion.  The discussion included Deborah's new book, What People Eat When They Eat Alone, as well as her brother's book Blithe Tomato.

After a delicious organic lunch including a salad prepared by all the participants from an assortment of greens brought by Wendy (from Green Gulch, the IVC Organic Farm, her garden, friends' gardens, etc.) as well as baked goods from Bovine Bakery, the tables were turned and Wendy became the interviewee.  We learned about the property that she grew up on in Westport, CT that was her refuge as a child and the plants that were her friends and inspiration.  I highly recommend Wendy's book Gardening at the Dragon's Gate for anyone who wants to meet Wendy but hasn't yet had the opportunity. Her heart and soul are in this book and it's a great way to get know her as a gardener, as a person and as a teacher.

Before we knew it, it was 3pm and time to depart.  I found it hard to leave this intimate circle, and yet felt highly inspired to get out there into the world and relate to my food and surroundings in a new way.  I also left with the satisfaction of knowing that I had supported Pt. Reyes Books, as this event was a fundraiser for this local business.  To find out more about future events like this one check out Marin Organic's website, where you'll find a listings for their sponsored Food for Thought speaker series.

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