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Versatile Vegetable Ideas from Whispering Willow Farm

By: Jill Ragan
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Versatile Vegetable Ideas from Whispering Willow Farm

By: Jill Ragan
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No surprise, growing food is a prominent aspect of my life, and not just because I am a farmer and educator, but because it is a passion I could not overlook.

Do you know that feeling? The yearning for something that you cannot deny- that one thing that speaks to you and stops you in your tracks. The thing that sends your mind spiraling down an out-of-this-world adventure you can’t wait to embark on. That’s how I feel every time I step out of my house, walk out my back porch and see my beautiful farm staring back at me.

Growing food sparks unwavering dreams and creativity and has grown me as a wife, mother, believer, and friend. My farm allows me to grow food, amend my soul’s soil, and plant dreams that give me freedom. It’s the freedom to express myself, teach others how to steward the land, prune their hearts, and experience growth.

For some, growing food may be intimidating; for others, they seek the thrill of trying new varieties and letting their creativity take over. I encourage you to try it; it’s liberating in every sense of the word.

The best advice I can offer the gardener is to start where you are, grow food within your comfort zone, and then expand when your knowledge and space grow. Radiate joy through your garden. Grow food you know you will use. Grow food you enjoy eating and find what sparks joy; grow that in abundance.

Soon you’ll find how versatile your food can be, adapting to the atmosphere it is surrounded in. And the lessons the garden offers are so versatile too. Over the years, I’ve grown several vegetables, things I loved, things I did not. Sometimes it was hard. I had babies, and my heart felt torn between farming and family. Other years disease ran rampant—etc. But I never gave up. I continued putting 1 foot in front of the other. And through it all, the garden taught me.

Keep growing, expanding your knowledge of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and don’t stop until you find what pushes you. It’s not always easy, and that’s part of the learning process. And through that adventure, you’ll learn so much more than you ever thought possible. Rest in a state of mind where you are willing to be taught by what the garden has to offer.

I want to leave you with inspiration and varieties that seemingly make their way into my garden with each passing year. Not just vegetables, you can walk into a grocery store and buy vegetables that tell a story, have a heritage. These, my friends, are called heirlooms.

Passed down from generation to generation, heirlooms tell their compelling story to any gardener willing to listen. Are you willing to heed their call? Will you carry on their legacy?

Tomatoes are one of my favorite things to grow. Despite not loving to eat them, I enjoy their wide range of beautiful colors, shapes, and sizes they offer the garden. Who knew tomatoes would radiate the most stunning colors; reds, yellows, pinks, and white? You heard that right; there are more than 3,000 heirloom tomato varieties available to date.

Looking to add a pop of color in your backyard garden? Dr. Wyche is as bright as sunshine, German Johnson is a deep red, and white tomesol is the purest of white. These beauties are to make you smile every time you look at them.

And tomatoes are just one part of the story. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of other heirloom seeds eager to find sanctuary in your garden. There are easy and versatile beans, squash, and lettuce varieties waiting to be planted. Heirloom grapes, melons, and berries await a new home too.

I invite you to take a chance, open your mind up to the wide range of vegetables waiting to find a place in your garden.

Meet the author

A little about Jill Ragan

Hey friends, Jill here, owner of Whispering Willow Farm, wife to my wonderful husband Nathan, and mother to three beautiful daughters. We are a small family-owned farm in Quitman, AR. We are extremely passionate about growing food, nurturing community, and creating content that invites everyone to have a seat at the table. We primarily grow vegetables; however, we also raise meat rabbits, meat chickens, and laying hens. We are passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle and teaching others the value of regenerative agriculture. We strive to set an honest, genuine example that encourages our audience to sow hope and harvest abundant dreams.

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