Photos from the book Sermon from the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden show the establishing of an eco-friendly homestead and early plantings on the property.
1980 – Ed and his wife Sue buy 6 acres of Illinois farmland, intending to establish a sustainable homestead and live in harmony with nature.
As Ed walks this completely empty parcel, he ponders his dilema. "No trees, no flowers, no worms. What have I gotten myself into?"
1999 – The same spot, 19 years later. Filled with trees, fruit, worms... even deer! Once again, thanks to Ed's diligent care and organic gardening efforts, the previously empty soil is teeming with new life.
Most amazing of all, this is a perfect demonstration of what happens when we apply these same gardening principles to the care of our own souls!
1983 – Ed and his young son Adam build raised beds and prepare to plant their first vegetable garden, using the "square foot gardening" method.
Raised beds give you total control over the consistency and quality of the soil. You simply make your own mixture, working in plenty of organic material.
Intensive gardening lets you place a variety of garden plants closely together. As they grow, they fill in all the spaces to create a mositure-saving living mulch.
Watering is much more efficient with raised beds. Notice the upright trellises next to the beds. Vertical gardening lets you use growing space even more efficiently.
Involving the whole family in the garden gives everyone a chance to spend time together, sharing the chores as well an appreciation for where their food comes from. Daughter Tara and son Edward are digging fresh potatoes for dinner.
Son Adam (and furry friend) pick the very first apple harvest. Ed planted over 300 different species of trees and bushes on the original six acres. He's tried almost anything that will grow in his climate zone. Many of them provide fruit or nuts, for a true edible landscape. All provide living beauty.
Ed and Adam preserve some of the harvest as "Apple Pie In A Jar," to be enjoyed all winter long. This is another "chore" that becomes an enjoyable and meaningful family activity as Ed cuts the apples, Adam fills the jars and wife/mom Sue does the canning.
Even though Ed planted primarily for food, he also planted for beauty – food for the soul. In this one view, the array of color is a true delight.