On Your Wish List

Picture 365If anyone were to ask me what gift would be at the top of my Christmas wish list, I would say a book. After our Christmas Eve gathering with family and friends, and then Christmas morning’s big breakfast and time around the tree, I always envision myself loafing on the couch in the afternoon, woodstove cranking, hot tea close by, ( perhaps a plate of cookies in reach), reading one of the books I was gifted for Christmas. Ahhh, holiday bliss. Here is a recommendation for a really interesting and informative book for the passionate gardener in the family. It’s called Founding Gardeners and is written by Andrea Wulf. Founding Gardeners is an exploration of that obsession, telling the story of the revolutionary generation from the unique perspective of their lives as gardeners, plant collectors, and farmers. Acclaimed historian Andrea Wulf describes how George Washington wrote letters to his estate manager even as British warships gathered off Staten Island; how a tour of English gardens renewed Thomas Jefferson’s and John Adams’s faith in their fledgling nation; and why James Madison is the forgotten father of environmentalism.
We actually went and listened to Andrea Wulf speak about her recent book and the research she did regarding these founding fathers and their passion for plants. We’ve also just finished reading her book. I had not realized just how significant plants, farming, and gardening were to those very men who were shaping our nation. Their sincere interest in agriculture and their strong faith in a local commerce was paired with the intention of creating a nation rooted in independence and selfreliance. What seems so significant to me, is how the intended vision of our founding fathers and the more recent resurgence of small diversified and sustainable farming practices of today are so closely aligned. According to the research that Andrea Wulf has done, we seem to be coming full circle in our approach to agriculture and our dependency on foreign goods and services. This seems quite apparent in the strong movement to reestablish traditional farming practices, to buy local, and to support the small diversified farmer. ” As long as a man had a piece of land of his own that was sufficient to support his family, Benjamin Franklin had said, he was independent.” Jefferson went even further, arguing that only farmers should be elected congressmen because more than any others they were ” the true representatives of the great American interest.”
One may be surprised to discover from reading Andrea Wulf’s book that the concepts that are emerging amongst todays small farmers and consumers were promoted from the very beginnings of our nation. We enjoyed reading this book and discovering some of the attitudes and intentions of our founding fathers. Certainly, like with everything we hear or read, there are points to question or consider. I love a book that leaves me with more to think about. Consider putting Founding Gardeners by Andrea Wulf on your book list, it’s a good read and one I think you’ll enjoy ( and let us know what you think).