The journey over the hill and through the woods to grandmother’s house for turkey and pie is a bit more decorative these days thanks to artists who are hanging squares of local culture on the sides of buildings.
Quilting—an old tradition of art and agriculture—has taken on a modern twist with plywood, paint, and brushes replacing the needle, thread, and fabric. While quilting as an American pastime is still a widespread practice, artists are now taking patterns of heritage preservation and hanging them on the sides of barns.
Designated Barn Quilt Trails weave across the country thanks to Donna Sue Groves, who created the concept in 2001 to honor her Appalachian heritage. With support from the Ohio Arts Council, her idea expanded into a driving trail that featured twenty squares. Today, organized trails include forty-eight states and 7000 quilts. Colorado is one of those states.
Several Front Range counties have united to create the Colorado Barn Quilt Trail, aided in part by the Colorado Quilting Council, Inc. (CQC). Although not a designated trail, barn quilts on the Western Slope are a part of the fruit culture’s landscape along the byways and beyond.
Along the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway, orchardists such as Carol Zadrozny of Z’s Orchard and lavender store Sprigs & Sprouts display barn quilts that reflect their agricultural pursuits. At the Museum of the West and Cross Orchards Historical Site in Grand Junction, artist and local quilter “Verda,” crafted more barn quilts using traditional quilting patterns.
Barn quilts are usually wooden squares 4×4, 6×6, or 8×8. The Iowa Extension offers a PDF with directions for building a barn quilt by the Le Mars Arts Council. (Click here for directions.) Also, the Monroe County Illinois Barn Quilt Trail Members have a “how to” download that includes additional resources. (Click here for directions.)
Quilt FAQ from Quilting in America:
- Mothers made “several quilts for each of her children to have when they left home to start life as adults.”
- “The U.S. government urged citizens to ‘Make Quilts – Save the Blankets for our Boys over There’” during WWI.
- The Depression prompted thrifty quilters to “saving bits and pieces of material from clothing and other blankets, using material from feedsacks.”
- During WWII, “quilting was used to raise money to support the Red Cross.”
May days on East Orchard Mesa above Palisade are lush with post blossom greenery. Verdant grapes on the vines are forming miniature clusters among the broad leaves. Even cherries—the first fruit of the growing season—are green.
Along the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway, growers are nurturing peach saplings. Z’s Orchard is planting 500 strawberry and 800 raspberry plants to add to their established u-pick patch. Early kale, lettuce, arugula, radish, and rhubarb are ready to harvest for the spring table. Click here to Z’s Orchard on Facebook to see what else is happening. (Click here.)
Gardeners are loading up their cars and trucks with greenhouse bounty at Sage Creations Organic Farm. Lavender-lovers wanting to start their own farm can learn from the owner and propagating pioneer, Paola Legarre, at Sage’s “Plant to Market” class on May 22nd. Sign-up is limited to ensure personalized instruction. Topics covered:
- Preparing beds
- Harvesting (for optimum use)
- Post-harvest handling
- Cultivars and their marketability
- Introduction to lavender propagation
For those who would rather create in the kitchen, Sage Creations Organic Farm has a variety of lavender recipes on their website from various chefs and magazines. One I plan on trying is Bon Appétit Magazine’s Chocolate Lavender Honey Tart.
Chocolate Lavender Honey Tart
Author: (Bon Appetit Magazine, April 2008)
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 9 whole chocolate graham crackers (about 5 oz.)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender blossoms
- 12 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 9 inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray. Grind graham crackers with 3 tablespoons butter and honey in processor until fine crumbs form. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not up sides) of prepared tart pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool.
- Bring cream and lavender just to boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes, remove from heat. Place chocolate in medium saucepan. Strain hot cream mixture into saucepan with chocolate. Stir over medium-low heat just until melted and smooth. Add cocoa powder and remaining 1 tablespoon butter; stir until melted and smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over crust in tart pan. Chill at least 45 minutes (chocolate will be slightly soft after 45 minutes and firm after 2 hours). Cut into wedges and serve. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
Click here to learn more about cooking with lavender from Sage Creations Organic Farm.
Share photos of your culinary creations here at A Bountiful History’s virtual #farmtocommunitytable.
One of our family’s adopted holiday mores that developed into a favorite over the years is the Christmas stocking—it is both occupational therapy and tradition.
The first thing we do after we get up is put together two holiday treat plates: regular and gluten free. After filling our cups with something hot or cold, we settle on the couch and indulge in a nibble. I take down the stockings that have been wondrously filed during the night for each of us. We take turns pulling one item from the stocking, guiding Katie to find hers. Each item is individually wrapped—even lip balm or pens—so that every gift is special. (The un-wrapping process also extends the time in front of the fireplace sipping coffee, savoring a treat, and snuggling.)
Even at twenty-eight years old, for Katie reaching into the stocking and pulling something out is still a skill to practice, it is therapeutic. We reward every effort with applause and praise and I think that that is more her motivation than whatever is inside. The Christmas stocking ritual is one that we treasure not because it is an iconic holiday activity, but because it is something that we can do together. This was not always the case.
When Katie was small the Christmas holiday season was a time I did not look forward to. In fact, I dreaded it. Besides the long school break that afforded little stimulation for Katie and caregiving help for me, illness came like clockwork. More than once we have been in the emergency room on Christmas Eve. Nights were sleepless, not listening for reindeer’s hooves on the rooftop or Santa sliding down the chimney. They were spent trying to quiet the crying and comfort the ailments. Add to that our isolation from social norms of other children’s activities and excitement and you had a recipe without sugar and spice.
Today our child is grown and living in a group home—a gift that did not come out of an over sized red stocking and is one for which we are grateful year round. Living in a group home has changed Katie: she has matured, maybe more so than she might have staying under mother’s microscope. She sleeps through the night, she is healthier, and most importantly, she is happy. I think that part of this is due to the fact that the group home pace is her pace. She is no longer trying—with my prompting—to keep up with “normal” children…young adults.
We have gone from barely “surviving the holidays” to enjoying them together. And while I am spiritual, though not
religious, this is a true Christmas miracle.
Happy Winter Solstice. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukah.
(I gathered the stocking stuffers featured in the photo while touring around the Grand and North Fork Valley conducting interviews. These culinary and sensory treats have been wrapped and are on their way to loved ones. Below is a list of the businesses when I found them.)
Clarks Orchards, Colorado Cellars, Cross Orchards Historic Site, Fire Mountain Fruit, Lamborn Mountain Farmstead, Meadery of the Rockies, Sage Creations Organic Farm, Springs and Sprouts, Z’s Orchards (Richard—only the label, we ate all the beets.)