Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No Ordinary Sow and Sew

A Nana Network Fan Who Embodies Our Mission Statement Agrees to Be Interviewed

Bobette Wolesensky drives a Volkswagen beetle that runs on vegetable oil—and not just any vegetable oil mind you, but the stuff left over from the sweet funnel cakes her friend makes. She’s a vegan with plans to live off the grid when she retires from teaching in Palm Beach, Florida and has 80 acres of land waiting for her and her husband Ken, in Nemaha County, Nebraska. The Nana Network (NN) caught up with Bobette (BW) in her husband’s home in Joliet, Illinois where the two of them are refreshing their Midwest gardening skills in a yard that sits in the middle of over 900 acres owned by Chicagoland Speedway – a NASCAR track! (Ken is VP of Operations for them and the house is theirs!) The house they live in, which is owned by the track, was built by a woman who owned a nursery and we’re guessing there’s some green thumb karma going on because Bobette’s garden is amazing.

NN: So describe a day-in-the-life of this quiet country location.

BW: When I wake up, the first thing I do is go outside and look at my peas, and my beans and my cucumbers to see if they’ve gotten any bigger. Today I found an absolutely perfect sugar snap pea; so smooth and round. I picked it and brought it over to the kitchen sink—I wanted to eat it before my husband woke up and laughed at me, or asked me what I was doing. The pea tasted just like sugar! I’d never had one that didn’t come from a grocery store, and it put a fine point on why I don’t miss shopping at the supermarket anymore.

NN: Your photo album on Facebook of your “garden” on the farm is great. Has it been a “learn as you go” type experience?

BW: You know, all of this wonderful stuff has been completely by chance, including what we’ve learned about gardening. One day we saw tiny moving clumps in a shovel full of compost. I said: “Ken, do you have any idea what that is?” and he and I both eventually determined that they were little cricket sized toads. We watched these same little guys develop into toads in the pond in our back yard and they’ve helped our garden immensely—perfect pest control! As it turns out, a lot of organic gardeners make toad ponds in their gardens – but ours was by chance. The pond and the toads came with the territory!

NN: We understand that Illinois is just a sampling of the real farming you’ll do in Nebraska. Are you going to give your farm there a name, and can you tell us more about your ultimate goal in all this?

BW: I want to call my farm Sow and Sew’s. I’ve always enjoyed creating things at the sewing machine. When you sew an outfit from a big piece of cloth, there’s a sense of pride and accomplishment. The other “Sow” is reaping what you sow. Planting a seed, nurturing it and then reaping the bounty is also a way to grow pride and self-esteem. I do volunteer work in a couple of Boca Raton elementary schools with students from the Ecology Club on my campus, and the growth I see in them and their elementary kids is amazing! My goal with Sow and Sew’s will be to provide a learning environment for city kids – and to hook our organic operation into the Farm to School (http://www.farmtoschool.org/state-home.php?id=53) program, since the Auburn, Nebraska school is one of five in Nebraska that is part of that program. (The farm is just a few miles from there.) In addition, I hope to share the bounty from the gardens at the farm with senior citizens who live in rural food deserts (where there aren’t many supermarkets) so everyone will benefit. Sow and Sew’s will focus on helping youth learn the value of sharing, knowing a sense of accomplishment and just feeling really good on the inside. From my point of view, local food producers are citizens taking complete responsibility for their environment.

NN: Works for us! We want to thank you, Bobette, for filling us in on the joy of producing locally grown fruits and veggies, and explaining how you hope to use your farm in Nebraska as part of Michelle Obama’s farms-to-schools initiative. For those of you who don’t already know, the First Lady is helping thousands of public schools serve locally grown produce in cafeterias nationwide! Click the farms-to-schools link to see how you can register your child’s school.

BW: Do you have any more questions for me?

NN: So many! But I guess we need to wrap things up and ask what kind of recipe we can present as our thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

BW: Any green bean dishes or enticing salads are welcome. I’m a vegan, after all.

NN: Click these links, my friend, and stay in touch! You’re an Honorary Nana in our book!

It’s All About the Veggies! 3 TOP NANA Favorites:
Orange Laced Green Beans in Wine Sauce
Veggie Filled Bread TorteTossed Green Salad with Creamy Buttermilk Dressing

1 comment:

Mary A. said...

Please let Bobette know that I so admire what she is doing and the fact that she has a long-range plan/goal. Would love to read a follow up after the Nebraska farm gets going. Thanks for sharing!

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