I’ve never really been one to make New Year Resolutions for a couple of reasons. One, when I tried to create New Year’s resolutions for myself I never made it past February with the new routine I created; read my bible every day, go for a run every day, only eat one piece of chocolate per day, etc. Second, I always feel skeptical about how sincere New Year’s Resolutions are. I searched for a little information about these commitments online, and came across a study that found that 78% of people who set these resolutions fail. Another site had an article with the headline “Still Looking for a New Year’s Resolution?” as if it was something a person had to do, and had to think of and commit to right away. But I think I am being a little cynical about this practice. Reflecting about the past year, my relationships, my mental and physical health, and my learning experiences is a wonderful, wholesome, fulfilling practice. It’s a practice that I try to repeat throughout the year.
A mentor of mine once suggested that I keep a list of everything that makes me happy so that when I come to a fork in my life path I will have practice thinking about what experiences make me happy and fulfilled and which do not. Shortly after this suggestion, a friend of mine gave me small notebook with the words “Makes Me Happy” on the cover. I’ve continued to write in this notebook for the past few years, and it amazes me how much it has helped me. Once I start thinking of things I like I cannot stop, and when I am feeling down I get out the book and remember the things I love.
So, I bet you are wondering why I am blabbering on about this on the Grow Appalachia blog. I decided to make some New Year’s resolutions for 2012. Or rather, a list of things I want to learn and experiences I want to have over the next year. Once I started the list I realized that almost half of the items on the list pertained to food and gardening, and I thought “why not make a entire list of garden resolutions?”
So, here are some of my gardening/food resolutions for 2012:
  •  Completely read my copy of the classic organic text: How to Grow Vegetables & Fruits by the Organic Method by J.I. Rodale (I have an old version-the updated book is entitled Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
  • Read the stack of back issues of ACRES magazine that my family passed along to me 
  • Take better care of my composting worms (make sure I feed them once a week!)
  • Grow storage onions from seed
  • Bake homemade bread once a week
  • Learn to cook meat. I eat very little meat (only getting some occasionally from my parents’ farm or a farmer I know, so my meat cooking skills are sorely lacking).
  • Extend my fall gardening season. I still have lettuce and kale from my fall 2011 garden (my lettuce survived the low of 9˚ the other night under a row cover!), but I want to work on planning my fall garden better this year.  
  • Learn more about soil nutrients and how to properly use compost, cover crops, etc. to improve soil health
  •  Save more seeds. This year I saved seed from basil, cosmos flowers, beans, squash, and tomatoes. We will see if they come up next spring! I want to learn how to save more seeds properly, and actually make myself do it. 
  • Drink more tea. During summer 2011 I grew an “herbal tea garden” and dehydrated many of these herbs. I made iced tea during the summer with these herbs, but I now I need to drink them as hot tea. It has to be good for me.
  • Learn to make cheese. At least ricotta. (Kathleen Powers makes this great ricotta recipe).   
  •  Remember to put on an apron when I cook. It is just more fun and keeps me from wiping my hands on my clothes…
  • Find someone with a cow that I can get raw milk from. I grew up drinking raw milk and am a staunch believer in its health (and taste) benefits. Kentucky currently has no legislation concerning herd shares as a way to legally “sell” raw milk. However, the KY state legislature brought forth a bill in December that would allow “permitted producers” to sell raw milk. We are still waiting to see what will happen with this issue in the future. Visit Community Farm Alliance to learn more

  • Learn how to speak as an advocate for local/homegrown produce and healthy cooking habits in a way that speaks to the minds and stomachs of my community 

What are your gardening and food resolutions for 2012? Please share if you feel like it. You might inspire me to add some others to my list!