I’m writing about five good gardeners from around Rockland County for the October issue of our Rockland magazine (also doing five for InTown Westchester).
I wanted to be sure to include Joan Gussow, who hasn’t bought a vegetable in 10 years. Everything she eats—year-round—comes from her sweet little garden in Piermont.
It’s right on the Hudson, on less than one-sixth of an acre.
I had spoken to Joan by phone a few times in recent years for other stories, but we had never met until yesterday morning. She proved to be just as delightful as I expected: warm, wise, funny and very engaging.
And a very good gardener. Here’s Joan—sorry for the squint, very hot and sunny.
A better picture, from her 2001 book. Her publisher, Chelsea Green, says the book has sold more than 30,000 copies. Not bad for a gardening book.
For decades now, Joan has been a pioneer in the movement for more local food.
A peach tree in her garden:
Of course, she uses no pesticides. These apples look pretty good.
Back in the 1970s, Professor Joan Gussow was raising serious questions with her Columbia students about why were we eating strawberries from California, grapes from Peru and winter tomatoes from God knows where when we have such a rich bounty of produce right here in the Hudson Valley.
Though retired from the full-time faculty, she still teaches a course in nutritional ecology and she’s on the board of Just Foods, which works with community gardeners and helps to bring Community Supported Agriculture into NYC.
In her own garden, she has 22 fully loaded raised beds that measure about 3 by 15 feet, with brick pathways in between.
What’s under here, I wondered?
The white fabric fools the birds and keeps them out. Apparently, if they can’t see the berries, they don’t know they’re there.
A view of her garden from the river.
I like gardeners who mix up their flowers and vegetables. Black-eyed Susans.
A stowaway dahlia in the potato patch.
Joan is particularly proud of her artichokes. Not easy to grow in the Hudson Valley, she says.
Looks like a very good year for tomatoes. She makes lots of tomato sauce to get her through the winter.
‘Aussie Sweet’ basil—delicious.
Peppers—very tasty, right off the plant. The cage keeps her from having to stake them.
Tomatillos, which reseed everywhere, Joan says.
A rabbit made off with her soy beans. Oh well.