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Who am I?

March 8, 2012

I decided it really is time to introduce myself. After all, here I am tickling you with emails and Facebook postings to please read and join the WVFarm2u blog by subscribing.

My name is Beth Rankin. I am a pretty new resident of West Virginia, having arrived about 5 years ago after marrying Graham, who is a professor of Forensic Science at Marshall University. We live on a small urban lot in Huntington. One of the first things we did was build a 4×16 raised bed in the backyard and we are proud to be among West Virginia’s “small farmers” as we provide herbs to one of the restaurants in town here, Huntington Prime. I have 3 kids….Dan is 29, Lisa will be 27 this summer, and Sam is 17, a junior at Huntington High School.

I am self-employed. I sell books on, do custom trip planning for people who want to travel, sew bags of all types (purses, winebags, laptop bags etc etc etc), and write blogs for a number of people and organizations. Graham and I also sing in the church choir and are the photographers for the cross country and track teams at HHS.

I grew up in New Jersey. My usual comment at this point is to say I am proud I am FROM New Jersey, not IN New Jersey. There are some beautiful areas of the state but I grew up in New Brunswick, smack dab in the middle of the megalopolis running from Boston to D.C. My parents took us camping around the United States each summer and when my mom complained that I chose to move so far from home I told her it really was her own fault for showing me there were better places.

My memories of travelling through West Virginia are a bit vague…I was collecting horses in those days and we stopped at several of the glass places and I had two I cherished for a long time. Long before the interstate, my memory gets fuzzy there probably because I got treated with paregoric for carsickness.

I have lived in Nashville and Memphis, Pittsburgh, Hartford, and Pueblo. You notice the trend: no rural areas. Coming to Huntington meant living in the smallest town I had ever been in. New Brunswick was about the same size but when you live in an area where it is house-house-house-highway-shopping center-house-house (you get the picture) it is hard to know when one town stops and the next begins.

BUT, we gardened. My dad (he grew up in Brooklyn, NY) kept a compost pile eons before suburbia recognized its value and we grew veggies in a 12×20 plot in the side yard. Rhubarb, strawberries, peach, apple and cherry trees, too. All of us had to weed and help pick and help put things up.  My mom grew up on a New Jersey chicken farm, but my grandparents were done with that before I was 7 years old. I have some vague memories of going into the chicken coop with Grandpa and being terrified my feet would get pecked.

My involvement with Farm2u came about because of a wonderful time at Cafe Cimino which then turned into being a member on the team for the Cast Iron CookOff in January. Melody Urbanik suggested to Allen Arnold that the website could use a blogger and here I am.

Obviously, I am not a farmer, nor do I run a market. I have no preconceived notions of how a sucessful farm or market operates. But I am a consumer and enjoy cooking wholesome food, and I have a strong level of curiousity and desire to understand.  I would love to come visit all of you but the budget does not allow for that.

Instead I ask you to pose issues to me. Send me photos of your farm, your animals, your crops. In talking about the issues that are near and dear to you as well as the things that concern and frustrate you, we can draw on the brainpower of everyone and it could be that someone across the street has had something similar and can offer a suggestion.

Email me at

Why get involved? Because the more we inform the public, the consumers will understand that there is local food of excellent quality nearby and affordable, the more they will demand your product. It’s a win-win.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. MJ Wenzel permalink
    March 8, 2012 9:18 am

    This was a nice read…what herbs have you grown? I tried some a couple years ago and drown them…put them on our steps in a nice row of pots but all the rain we got that particular year drown them all. Going to try some again this year. I am a big cilantro lover and want to try that along with mint and various other cooking herbs – parsley, dill etc and maybe a little garlic. – oh and we are a small farm ourselves we have 12 acres in Slanesville and have pygmy goats and chickens (have to have my fresh eggs because I love playing in the kitchen) and plan on doing a huge garden this year (I love home canning!)

    • March 8, 2012 12:07 pm

      The restaurant wants basil and more basil and more basil. LOL Last year we supplied 4 different kinds. Also parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (singing here) and chives. Several kinds of mint. Thank goodness the new neighbor next door said she didn’t plan to use the garden bed in that back yard so we have our veggies there. Tried cilantro two different years and something is not happy with our soil/light/something. Our best “garden” seems to be the compost pile where we have gotten volunteers of squash, pumpkin, more tomatoes and a cantaloupe….one more thing that just was not as happy as we hoped it would be. You’re a little far for me to come to you to a canning refresher, but it is tempting. *G*

      • MJ Wenzel permalink
        March 8, 2012 2:42 pm

        I have found lots of fantastic recipes for canning online. But Ball has a nice site too. I do a lot of pickles of all sorts but our favorite has been the watermelon pickles . I have heard that mint can take over – But I want to try it in in my veggie garden since they say it is a good deer repellent. Plus I really enjoy mint tea. We hope to dedicate some area to dry beans by themselves since all I’ll have to do for them is weed control. I am also going to try dandelions this year…I have only ever done the greens. So really looking forward to flowers opening up here.

      • March 8, 2012 3:20 pm

        We put the mint in containers so we can limit the spread.

      • MJ Wenzel permalink
        March 8, 2012 3:40 pm

        Good! Then I wasn’t far off in what I was planning. I was going to use some old tires that we missed taking on recycle day and put it in the corners of the garden. Plus that way I don’t accidentally pull it as a weed.

      • March 8, 2012 4:35 pm

        Yeah, you have to be careful. I am sad to report that we gave permission to the restaurant to come and pick whenever they wanted…and my rhubarb disappeared…someone did not know how to pick.

      • March 8, 2012 8:43 pm

        We found chocolate mint, orange mint,pineapple mint and apple mint. The restaurant went crazy over them….not only new recipes for desserts but the bartender was excited about the recipes he could produce also.

      • MJ Wenzel permalink
        March 9, 2012 10:10 am

        Wow I wrote down those other mint flavors…I will have to find those. Thanks!!

  2. MJ Wenzel permalink
    March 8, 2012 5:30 pm

    My other worry about others in the garden is the trampling…I remember once in PA going to a pick your own strawberries and I was telling others about where to walk…once the berries were picked they didn’t seem to care where they walked. We joined our local farmers market…but I never got a chance to set up at it. The year I joined I had a car accident…and now this summer I can’t drive because of seizure conditions. We thought about having folks come to our place and pick…but it would only be able to happen with us here. I really would like to do what you are and find a place that needs supplies – or a seller that is looking for a “partner” – I would do the garden but they would have to do the table – or take me with them to help…lots of options for me.

    • March 8, 2012 8:40 pm

      Just came home from a Chat N Chew Meeting of Create Huntington this evening. This is a grassroots gathering of people who want to see things get done. Everything is managed without asking for permission LOL. Action is revving up for getting a local foods market in place here. We have a farmers market but it just is not local or daily or any number of reasons why it doesn’t work for the very interested consumers here. However, it won;t work for you to supply because we are so far apart. We’re figuring we’ll need to go about 75 miles from Huntington to get enough farmers who might be interested in supplying the market. I am thinking of presenting a blog on it, just because it is a model of market that is popping up all over the US. The consumer market is out there. The issue is connecting the dots from the supplier (you) to the consumer (me) in a way that is cost effective and makes logistical sense for everyone.

  3. March 8, 2012 5:32 pm

    About the only things up here I haven’t had success growing are carrots and broccoli for some reason.

  4. March 9, 2012 11:26 am

    Thanks for liking my blog! It’s nice to read about another West Virginia resident—and so nearby!—who is a big fan of Tim and Melody, Allen Arnold, and the farm to table movement. Well met!

  5. March 12, 2012 11:25 pm

    Hello Beth, hello Colleen! So great to have you two wonderful WV women (hey, you CHOSE WV!) in our lives 🙂 I always smile when I think of you both; for your beautifully written words, thoughtfulness, curiousity and sense of humor…we love you both and appreciate how you promote WV. Thanks from Chef Tim and Melody, Cafe Cimino Country Inn

  6. milkmaidmarian permalink
    March 15, 2012 7:19 pm

    What an interesting blog, Beth! As an Australian dairy farmer I am always interested in how people eke out a living in ag around the world and wvfarm2u presents an entirely fresh (pardon the pun) approach.

    Thanks for visiting and liking my own blog, Milk Maid Marian.

    • March 15, 2012 8:50 pm

      I have especially enjoyed speaking to people from Australian the past year as my daughter has enjoyed a year of work and trekking there. No dairy work, altho she picked grapes, sorted olives, picked cherries, and worked in several inns both in Tasmania and on Thursday Island.She’ll be home soon with lots of stories and perhaps some will show up here LOL

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