What a journey! Two decades ago I dramatically changed the way I ate: no more prefabricated and processed breakfast and lunch at the fast food drive-through. Instead, I began to eat foods in their whole food form, rediscovered vegetables, began cooking and baking. No more white sugar, white flour, and white rice. My diet was now based on whole grains, lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and unprocessed, natural sugars. I felt vibrant, lost weight, and wanted to share this new found knowledge, so I gave up city life and moved to rural Tennessee to farm organically.
And I did farm – sort of – with a small garden. I farmed part-time because I still had to work in the city to pay the mortgage, the car note and the credit card. While driving home after a long day of work, flipping through radio channels, I came across an interview with Kiko Denzer, author of How to Build an Earth Oven. Little did I know, even after I bought his book, how much that interview was going to change my life.
Twenty years later, the bills were smaller and the garden was larger. I was finally selling my vegetables at the local farmers’ market.
Eventually I picked up Denzer’s book that I had purchased years earlier. Inspired, I built a small beehive cob oven with items on the farm – clay from the pasture, sand from the creek bank, gravel and rock from the creek that runs through our farm. The first loaves out of that wood fired oven were shared with appreciative neighbors and family. I thought, “Why not build a bigger wood fired oven and offer whole grain, naturally leavened breads along with my vegetables?” The pairing of freshly baked break and freshly picked produce was so natural that I built a hoop style greenhouse and an oven big enough to hold 50 loaves at a time.
We still live in the country by our meandering stream and let our grandchildren join us for “picking” each week. Our garden now includes berry patches, some fruit trees and a greenhouse, and we are living my 20 year old dream of supplying nutritious foods to others.