Pattie Baker

Photo: Leenie Baker

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The Farmer: Pattie Baker
The day after 9/11, I found myself at my Atlanta supermarket, staring at peanut butter and bottled water. History has taught that in times of crisis, you have to be able to feed yourself, and I was shocked to see how incapable I was of doing that. I felt overwhelmed and helpless—dependent on that store for getting food to my family's table.

I hoped growing my own food would give me some sense of self-determination in a chaotic world. I started by planting onions outside my kitchen door in three little beds that weren't much of anything. Initially, I was just digging into the dirt, but I wound up digging into my community. A neighbor gave me mint to plant. My family began going to local markets and meeting farmers. When we'd sit down to dinner, the children would say, "Whose beans are these?" or "Whose potatoes are these?" They knew the effort that went into their food. In 2009 I started a community garden that's now 11,600 square feet and 71 members strong.

My garden has grown to a sizable bit of my backyard. I've planted heirloom seeds for vegetables you can't find in the supermarket, like purple beans and lemon cucumber. I work as a writer by day, but now I know I'm a farmer at heart. I feel secure working in my garden. I wake up so excited to get my hands into my little patch of earth. —As told to Margaret Rhodes