Name: Cindy Barlowe
Occupation: Organic Farmer/Owner of Heart & Sole Gardens, Heirloom Seed Saver, Beekeeper, Freelance Writer
Place of Residence: Western North Carolina
As a young child, Cindy Barlowe did not realize how fortunate she was to be her maternal grandmother’s garden helper. Separated by two homes on their gravel street, Barlowe daily walked the short distance to Granny’s house. During growing seasons, she accompanied her grandmother to a large cultivated area where sunflowers towered over her head, cucumber and squash vines snaked across rows and colorful tomatoes, warmed by summer sun, popped in her mouth with incredible flavors. Stretching almost the entire length of the street and bordering each home’s backyard, the garden was a magical classroom where life lessons were shared.
During a thirty-year stint with the North Carolina public school system, teaching Title I reading, social studies, English and basic skills, Cindy earned a Master’s of Library Science from Appalachian State University and served her last twenty years as a Media Coordinator/Technology Facilitator at Hibriten High School. A successful grant writer, Cindy garnered funding for several successful programs, including a twelve year oral history project that collected veterans’ personal narratives about wartime experiences.
For reasons hard to articulate, in 2008, Cindy and her husband, Richard, after years of growing a small kitchen garden, plowed eight acres of fertile land and planted a variety of fruits and vegetables. When her mother learned about the plans, she offered to share heirloom seeds. Stored in the freezer, some for more than twenty years, these seeds passed through at least five generations of Cindy’s family and were saved from her grandmothers’ gardens. Although she initially doubted the viability of the old seeds, Cindy celebrated the excellent germination rates, healthy plants and abundant harvests from beans, pumpkins, peas, squash, cucumbers, peanuts, flowers and herbs. Holding inherited treasures in her bare palm, Cindy feels the seeds’ life force surge and working with these special plants opens doors to past memories. Her grandmother’s voice is strong as Cindy recalls lessons learned in Granny’s garden. Pull this; it’s a weed. Careful not to step on the vines. This is a bad bug and this one is good. Save the best for next year’s seed.
Abstaining from chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, the Barlowes dubbed their project “Heart & Sole Gardens,” reflecting spiritual and emotional connections, as well as physical labor. When well-meaning people attempt to correct the spelling of “sole,” Cindy smiles as she replies, “You do not understand what I do.”
A passionate, Farmer’s Almanac-thumping, evangelistic seed saver, Cindy Barlowe encourages farmers, backyard gardeners and sunny windowsill growers to preserve heirloom seeds and the stories they hold. A retired educator, Cindy believes growing one’s own food sustains the body and satisfies the soul and saving heirloom seeds gives a connection to the past and offers hope for the future.
Growing Heirloom Plants and Saving Seeds (When Not Pulling Weeds)
Participating in U.S. Bee Buffer project
Member, Charlotte Food Bloggers and NC Blogger Network
Collecting Heirloom Seed Savers’ Oral Histories
Background: Retired Public High School Media Coordinator, Past President and Grant Writer for local non-profit, The Wig Bank of Caldwell County, Contract food blogger for The Charlotte Observer, Freelance writer for Wildlife in NC, Our State Magazine, Heirloom Gardener and local publications
More Places to Find Cindy on the Web: