Juxtaposition. It is a word I am intimately familiar with. I grew up in-between landscapes; having a father from Brooklyn and a mother from a rural farm community in Kansas, translated into a life between worlds. Pavement. North East Woodland. Kansas Farmland. Everywhere I went, there was a landscape to view and contemplate.
My mom left Kansas when she was seventeen to marry my dad - a guy she had only known for one day, having met him on a field trip her class took to see NYC. Their love story is going on fifty years, but her story of living with the land and her passion for growing plants is a story that she learned from her mother, and now I have learned from her.
She went from working along side her mother to grow all the food their family of eight could need, to just having tomatoes on her New York City fire escape. I was born in "the city" and we moved out to the "country" (my dad still commuted to our store in the city every day so it really wasn't too far out there) when I was two and my mom always had a large garden while we four kids were growing up. I loved to play in her flowers and make my own creations with them: flower crowns, necklaces, decorative mud pies… Basically ripping her flowerbeds to pieces.
When I went to college at Smith College, I was immediately drawn to their greenhouses, gardens and the forest lands of western Massachusetts. I became a botany major, and started my own fire- escape sized garden. From there, it was off to Yale to study forestry where I planted understory gardens of medicinal herbs.
After graduate school, I moved back to my hometown and started a non-profit called Grow It Green Morristown. We run New Jersey’s largest public school farm and a community garden. I started it because I wanted to be outside with the children, in the soil, finding worms, planting seeds and all that… Somehow I ended up in the office running the day-to-day. Not the ideal setting for a woman who wanted to farm.
And then... we bought the house next door to my parents.
A crazy, big old house from the 1800’s. It was falling apart. The Department of Environmental Protection actually wouldn't let us close on the house until we installed a sewer line... because it still had the original "waste disposal" system from the turn of the century... the last century. Every bathroom leaked, all the wiring needed to be replaced.
But it **shared the driveway with my parents** (clearly, I like them a lot).
And so we bought it – and the three acres of land surrounding the house. This might not seem like a huge swath of land to my family in Kansas, but here in the most densely populated state in the Nation, in my hometown of 20,000 people... three acres is like having your own private park.
The house has a name: Fairview.
Apparently all the grand homes of the Gilded Age needed a name.
I’ve always been the girl who shows up to the party with dirt under her fingernails, her hair frizzed out from the humidity, or worse, wearing a green bean leaf pasted to her rear while walking into a really nice restaurant. Did you know that green bean leaves are the prototype NASA used to create Velcro? Yeah, they are sticky. Really sticky. And now I live in a house with a name... it's a little out there.
So come along on the adventure! Fairview Farm and Flowers lives at the intersection of historic preservation, modern floral artistry, and a new urban aesthetic. It's a wild and fun place! You won't be disappointed! Daily life is dirty but the flowers sure are pretty!