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Seattle Fling 2011

Garden bloggers meet in Seattle in 2011

Mary McClintock’s Gift

Many of us know Mary McClintock as a writer who delights in good local food, celebrates the farmers who raise it, and brings us advice from the cooks who really know what to do with it. I know I have enjoyed her Wednesday food column, Savoring the Seasons, ever since it began  nearly four years ago. I’ve learned a lot about vegetables unknown to me including the gilfeather turnip.

During her California youth McClintock probably didn’t spend any more time thinking about vegetables than any other child in her neighborhood, although she enjoyed working with her mother in their garden and attending farmer’s markets where they could buy fresh local food – before that was a catch phrase. Her mother also taught her about preserving food. Together the two of them would pick apricots and peaches and then turn them into golden apricot jam and peach chutney.

Playing on the Hawaiian beach where the family lived for a couple of years, and learning the names of plants in the California woods from her mother instilled a deep love of the outdoors in McClintock.

McClintock’s life has been filled with many jobs and many academic adventures. “Important people in my life showed up at the right moment to steer me into my next educational institution or path. . . .  Two high school teachers spent two years talking to me about the wonders of Mt. Holyoke, including that I could ride horses, canoe and be part of the Outing Club. I thank them every day of my life for getting me to Mt. Holyoke,” she said.

Joan Rising, a teacher at Greenfield Community College “steered me to GCC’s Outdoor Leadership Program when I was wanting to pursue work as an outdoor leader and didn’t know how to get there.”

The work McClintock did in Springfield with very difficult teenage boys in an outdoor program made her realize she didn’t have the knowledge of education and psychology that would make her more effective. One of her colleagues in that program was a student at the University of Massachusetts School of Education and led McClintock to attend and study Organizational Development for a Master’s Degree.  She said the important thing about this program for her was that it could be applied to any field, not only outdoor leadership, but to the issues of social justice that were so important to her.

Over the years, but especially during and since her years at UMass she has worked both as a professional and as a volunteer on issues elated to women, disability rights, and lesbian/gay/bi rights.

McClintock explained that these two professional threads in her life are vitally connected. “The oppression of people is completely and totally parallel to and comes from the same impulse as the oppression of the natural world/earth/environment. Reading a book called Woman and Nature by Susan Griffin in the late 70s or early 80s was the first time I understood the connection between the oppression of people and the oppression of the earth. It has been a foundation of my understanding of the world and my activism ever since. All of my social justice work relates to my environmental work and vice versa, “ she said.

Always interested in good food, she became really involved with local food. in 2001. She was inspired by Gary Paul Nabhan’s book, Coming Home to Eat, about the wisdom and pleasure of eating local food, and a workshop led by John Hoffman who farms at the Wilder Brook Farm CSA. Soon she started a local food group who enjoyed potlucks together. As word spread she joined the group organizing the first Free Harvest Supper in 2005.

When Juanita Nelson came up with the idea of a winter farmers market, “we all thought she was crazy,” McClintock said. To promote this crazy project Nelson and McClintock decided to write monthly articles for the Recorder. “Along the way I thought there were so many topics to write about that I could probably write something every week,” she said.  That was the birth of Savoring the Season which debuted in the Recorder in July 2007.

Through all the changes in her life whether she was sea kayaking in New Zealand or Alaska, editing and indexing books, or running an editorial and research business called BetterYou Than Me, McClintock’s mother enjoyed hearing about her adventures, “although she really liked it when I had work she could actually describe to her friends,” she said. “I sent her my own writings and she was always a great fan.”

When Elizabeth Welsh passed away last year McClintock wanted to find a way to honor her. That was not hard to do. McClintock had worked part time at the World Eye and when Welsh came to visit a lot of time was spent with McClintock’s World Eye family.

“My mother loved libraries and reading,” McClintock said. She also thought about the books that had inspired her over the years. The perfect memorial would be books purchased at the World Eye, and donated in her mother’s name to the Greenfield and Conway libraries. The books have to do with gardening, food preservation and sustainable living, topics important to mother and daughter. The books were carefully chosen with the help of the librarians to avoid duplication, and enhance their collections.

The books are on library shelves and ready to be checked out, ready to inspire and teach.

Books Donated to the Greenfield Public Library

by Mary McClintock in memory of her mother, Elizabeth Welsh

Berry Grower’s Companion by Barbara L. Bowling

Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking of Meat, Fish & Game by Eastman

Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Peterson

How To Make and Use Compost:  The Ultimate Guide by Nicky Scott

Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane

Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier

Pruning Made Easy by Lewis Hill

Putting Food By (5th ed) by Greene, Hertzberg, & Vaughn

Secrets of Plant Propagation by Lewis Hill

Stalking The Healthful Herb by Euell Gibbons

Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience by Rob Hopkins

Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid by Forgey

Compost, Vermicompost and Compost Tea, by Grace Gershuny will be published in April, 2011:

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