Gardener Story: The Steubs

Gardening was always the heart of our backyard growing up in Wisconsin. If Mom and Dad weren’t working they were out in the garden planting, weeding, harvesting, and the rest of us kids would always be given small tasks to help out. Gardening was important. No, it was more than that, it was a central part of our family life growing up. 

Naturally, I wanted a garden for my own family. I missed the fresh vegetables with rich flavors that were so good you knew they didn’t come from the genetically modified produce section in the store.  With a growing family of four (soon to be 5), nutritious meals are paramount, but buying organic was burdensome on the budget. Gardening was a must for us.

The biggest challenge for my husband and I was in the fact that we were both born and raised in Wisconsin, where the dirt is rich and the seed is ready to sow. Fun fact: The small town in which I grew up had one claim to fame. They were the home of the state soil of Wisconsin, Antigo Silt Loam. Of course we celebrated this as a town with the annual festival, Dirt Fest. Believe me, the clay soils of East TN were a shock to me. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love Tennessee, it’s our home, but gardening is a bit more challenging here.

Here’s where Build It Up was instrumental in starting our dream garden. They taught us the fundamentals of raised bed gardening. We learned how to test our soil, adding the nutrients needed for fertility and workability. Being a part of the community of gardeners has also been extremely beneficial. Notifications on local health classes, famers markets, seed and plant exchanges, and mulch locations have been very useful. 

While keeping harvest totals at times seemed tedious, it was rewarding at the end of the season to see how much our garden had produced. It was pleasantly surprising to me to see how much we gathered throughout our first summer.  It was also a practice that taught me to be more organized with my planning, giving me a good place to start in the future.

Build It Up has been a tremendous blessing for our family. We look forward to our second season in the program. 

Here is one of our favorite recipes, Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tostadas from Nourish Evolution. We love adding shredded cabbage as a topping, or any other fresh garden veggies we have on hand. 

More images from The Steub family garden!