Visiting with Gardeners Part 1: Sisters Jennifer and Sage

Sage (front) and Jennifer Billig in one of their hoop houses. Fayetteville, Arkansas

I’ve been spending some time lately visiting with gardeners, asking about not only what they grow but how and why they grow. This is part of a larger research project with Utah folklorist Nelda Ault. We will be presenting our research at the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society in October.

View of Sage's garden (from her son's tree fort) looking toward Jennifer's backyard.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit with sisters Jennifer and Sage Billig.  

They live next door to one another and share garden spaces in the nutrient rich bottom land of south Fayetteville. Jennifer and Sage grew up in Madison County, Arkansas and learned to garden by watching their parents who were part of the back to the land movement. Their parents in turn learned a great deal from the long-time residents of the Ozarks.

Between their two backyards Jennifer and Sage raise enough food for both of their families to eat locally year-round. They can, dry, and freeze foods, sell to the farmer’s market on occasion, and also sell herbs to a few local resteraunts. They recently started a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription, suppling food to a few local families. This winter they will be starting their first winter CSA, providing local greens and other veggies grown in their unheated hoop houses.

(If you want to learn more about CSAs and how they work there is a lot of information out there. Here is just one place to start).

More to come on Jennifer and Sage’s garden, but until then here are a few photos. Isn’t it a magical place?

Chickens in the Billig Garden. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Hoop house for growing greens in the winter.

Close up of garden.

Green beans inside a hoop house covered in vines.

Do you know any gardeners I should visit with? Email me at meredithmartin_moats at yahoo or leave a message here.