Why write a book about gardening? Well, I was born on a Wisconsin dairy farm and my earliest memories all seem to involve growing things. My mother working in the flowerbeds, me eating apples that had fallen from the trees in our yard, searching in the ditches for wild asparagus, picking wild berries at my great-grandparents’ house and riding on the tractor as my parents baled hay are just some of those memories.
Later we moved to town, and while we no longer had a farm, there was always a garden in the backyard full of tomatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, green onions, peppers, potatoes, melons and more. I knew where the wild strawberries grew and where the mulberry tree was. When I got older and had an apartment of my own, there was a window box on the small deck, so I bought a few bean seeds to put in it. But since I had so many seeds left, I ended up buying a few more planters and putting seeds in those too. Before I knew it, I was renting a community garden plot and following in my parents’ footsteps with my own garden.
One thing that always made an impression on me when I was a kid was how happy people always were to receive fresh produce from our garden. Everyone seemed to love the garden-fresh vegetables, and many people didn’t have gardens of their own. When I had my own garden I always planted more than I needed so I could give the extra to co-workers, the food pantry, neighbors or anyone else who would like it. The thrill was in growing it, and it always felt good to make people happy by sharing. This is what I tried to capture with Farmer Bear’s Garden.
Lezlee Ware is an artist and illustrator living with her family in northern Idaho. Her art is inspired by the natural world, and she was very excited to be a part of Farmer Bear’s Garden. It was fun to capture the learning, nurturing, and sharing that goes into and comes out of growing food together, and the sense of community it creates.
You can learn more about her art here.