Rhena Tantisunthorn

Cabbage Patch Garden Launches a Vegetable Revolution

Dick Larsen is not the guy you'd expect to be at the helm of a revolution. He's soft-spoken and slightly built. With his thick, retro, architect glasses and pink rock-a-billy shirt with two roosters over the left pocket, it wouldn't be surprising to see a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve, but there are none. A carpenter by trade and, now, the sole proprietor of The Vegetable Revolution, Larsen is a self-taught man. His workshop, located in Northeast Minneapolis, is bathed in sun pouring in from the windows that run the length of the space, crowded with heavy duty carpentry machines. The air is light with the smell of freshly cut cedar, which he fashions into cold frames, the starting point of his brainchild, The Cabbage Patch Garden.

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How Growing a Few Backyard Tomato Plants Led to My Life as a Farmer

As I’m planting my crop of tomatoes this year, I couldn’t help but ponder about how much I’ve benefited from this one item of produce. In her recent Simple Good & Tasty post, Rhena Tantisunthorn described the history of tomatoes, so I reflected on my own history and realized how my love for tomatoes has been a catalyst of growth for me in so many ways. Here are just a few of them:

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Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato

My tomato seedlings are dying on the windowsill. In my absence, my husband put them outside on sunny, too hot days. It was more than their delicate leaves could take and the tips started to brown and wilt before I could return to rescue them. Maybe this is what made my reading of Arthur Allen's Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato, so bittersweet.

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Foraging for Food Is a Way of Life for the Hmong

Imagine that you are from a place and a time where your life, your very existence, is inextricably linked to the land. Imagine that you know the environment around you so intimately that you can spot the swish of a lizard's tail in the undergrowth twenty feet off. That you can differentiate an edible plant from its poisonous cousin from touch alone. That by tasting the soil, you can divine what plants will and will not flourish. That you can disappear into the forest or jungle and emerge 60 minutes later with dinner for your family. That even though your family grows food on a farm, you often venture off with friends to gather what is offered in the wild. That some of your earliest memories are following your mother through the jungle as she bends and stoops to gather greens. That you remember hearing laughter as she and the other women banter back and forth between patches of wild edibles.

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The Evolution of Minnesota's Own Gardens of Eagan

Linda Halley and I stand in the middle of a seemingly empty, sunny field under an impossibly clear sky. She bends over and touches her fingertips to the soil, raking them gently over the top, exposing slightly blacker, wetter soil underneath the grayish first layer. "I don't see any – Oh! There's one. Do you see that?" she asks. "That's the beginning of a weed," Halley explains. Now I see it. She's turned up a tiny matchstick of white, barely noticeable, and easily dismissed as a piece of dried grass. It's the sliver of the root or maybe a stem. Weeds: competition for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Weeds: enemy of the crop and therefore enemy of the farmer. As the manager of the Minnesotan organic farm, Gardens of Eagan, Halley can't use herbicides to rid herself of these pesky plants.

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Can You Eat Your Way to Happiness?

When you're as cynical as I am, the title of the book Eat Your Way to Happiness by Elizabeth Somer, sounds like a claim begging to be questioned. While I was reading her 10 diet secrets, I found myself wondering, "Yeah, but does it work?" I took a week to find out.

Fortunately, some of my approach to food already follows what Somer recommends. A large part of my diet already is "real food": I always eat breakfast and often whole grains, I don't drink much caffeine, and I eat lots of blueberries and other "superfoods." Still, some of the things she was asking me to do on this path to happiness were a challenge. I've grown used to having a beer while I cook dinner most evenings. Fatty fish twice a week would put a strain on my wallet. I was dubious that I could find an hour to do moderately intense exercise everyday.

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The Movie "Homegrown" Fulfills Urban Fantasy of Having a Farm

I have a fantasy scenario that plays out in my head each spring as the dingy snow melts; through the musky, warm summer evenings; during the crisp and bountiful weeks of autumn harvest – frankly, just about year round. My husband and I move our family to a healthy plot of land in the country where we grow our own food, make our own cheese, and watch our children frolic with goats, the sheep and the chickens. All is peaceful and pastoral. Admit it, if you're visiting this website, chances are good that you've had a similar fantasy yourself.

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