David & I both are from big, cosmopolitan cities originally.
From opposite sides of the Earth but we are…
He, at least, grew up in a house with a very nice sized parcel of land in the city of Atlanta, Georgia.
Then he moved to New York City where he spent almost 30 years of his life… where we met… fell in love… and got married.
But me on the other hand, I was born and raised in Istanbul/Turkiye.
(in English, you call it “Turkey”)
One of the largest cities on Earth.
It’s beautiful and charming, it’s called -The Crib of The Civilizations- at the end, but it’s condensed, fast, busy.
The only contact I had with nature when I was growing up was during the summers.
Turkiye is a peninsula if you take a look at the map. So the whole country is surrounded by magnificent seas like the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Black Sea and another inner sea called Marmara.
Almost every Turkish child is fortunate enough to have that pleasant experience of being in the sea for the whole summer, unless they live deep in Anatolia somewhere where there is no contact with water.
My whole family were real city people, they never grew anything.
Except my grandfather, on my father’s side who passed 2 years before I was born. So I never had the chance and pleasure to share his passion for gardening and bee keeping and learn from him.
He was an agricultural engineer and tobacco expert from Berlin/Germany.
Of course I’ve listened to so many stories about him, when I was growing up.
(He was Turkish but the family moved to Berlin when he was a very young boy so he grew up and got his whole education in Berlin in the early 1900’s)
I don’t wanna bore you with a bunch of personal stories but I feel like I have to share this one at least;
Istanbul, in the early days wasn’t like today, all covered with tall buildings.
There were incredible houses with big, lush gardens.
As time went by and when families needed money, those beautiful houses started to disappear one by one with the gardens unfortunately and the buildings took over.
In 1939, my grandfather came home with a brown bag full of pine nuts one day. He planted them in small containers first and then transplanted every one of them to the garden.
It was like a pine forest, which is all I remember from that house when I was little. Along with rose gardens, there was a kitchen garden and the bee hives.
It was incredible.
I was only 7 when that house also with it’s garden was replaced with 11 tall buildings.
There is another romantic part of this story by the way,
the year he was creating his pine forest by planting the little pine seedlings one by one with his own hands literally, is the same year his future daughter in law who he never got a chance to meet… was born… my beautiful Mother.
My other grandfather on my Mother’s side also passed away very early in life when I was only 6 and my brother was 4. I remember the hydrangeas… and my brother and I were rolling on his meticulous lawn in his garden… but this is all in a haze.
It was apparent he must have loved his garden also.
So when I got my first rental apartment when I was 24,
with every penny extra I got, I bought some plants although I didn’t have much furniture.
I remember my Father used to tease me, he used to say -well, only a parrot is missing in this house now!-
A couple of years later when I permanently moved to USA (New York City), all those plants were divided between both of my grandmother’s houses.
And until the end of their lives, they looked after each and every one of those plants like their own children. Although neither of them had any interest in plants before.
David’s father was French. He was the only child of a French Family who owned a vineyard 100 miles south of Paris/France.
He grew up watching his own father growing, grafting and making wine.
But he was sent to the USA at an early age. He was in New York City first for high school then he went down south to attend Georgia Institute of Technology, “Georgia Tech” one of the best engineering universities located in Atlanta to get his architectural degree where he met David’s Mother, and got married and then had three sons. (as David was the first born like myself)
Mr. Valin was passionate about his garden as an architect.
David remembers, every spring, they used to go to the nursery and pick up some trees and plants and their father had the boys work in the garden like digging the holes for the trees etc. and had them take up responsibilities to grow things which at the end he used to end up doing the whole job himself of course as the Father.
But the children grew up in Nature. They hiked, they explored, they were always in Nature. But then with the hectic, busy lifestyle of New York City and with completely different areas in life, David never got a chance to grow a garden, or much interest about having a garden in the early years.
The reason I’m telling you all this, is just to be able to show you… here we are… two people… from opposite sides of the Earth, in the middle of one of the craziest cities in the world with passion of NATURE!
But especially after we both went vegan over 8 years ago, as our bodies got cleaner and cleaner with the food that we are designed to thrive on, Nature literally started calling us towards her more and more every second.
Now we started to desire to grow not only house plants that look pretty and give us pleasure and clean air in our home but our foods also.
We didn’t have a yard to grow anything… so we had to improvise…
Our first apartment together was at the top floor of a town house with two tiny rooms with two big windows,
So David installed shelves for me on our bedroom’s window that way I was able to grow micro-greens for our salads, juices and smoothies.
(Like sunflowers, buckwheat, radish, broccoli and wheat grass)
We used to go to the community garden every day, religiously.
We used to participate in nature walks and seminars regularly to learn about the herbs, the wild “weeds”, the plants growing in our area… with notable herbalists.
Over the years we accumulated a lot of information about growing things, having a kitchen garden/potager. So the desire of having our own garden was growing in our hearts tremendously.
The desire of spending our lives in Nature and not on concrete any more.
4 years ago… we moved west to California.
We rented a town house in San Francisco Bay Area with two little patios on both sides. So again there was not much space plus any real soil on the ground to grow anything. It was concrete.
Next time…I’ll tell you how and why we moved here… to the Desert where we are right now and have our own garden…finally.