I walk into my mom’s kitchen and find homemade noodles on the counter. I smell chicken soup, a wonderful smell. I am with my siblings and my mom, and everyone is talking. My mom made all our food from scratch. It’s all about the quality of the food…how it tastes. I continue making the same foods for my family today.
I grew up for ten years of my life in Kansas, and I would say we lived in poverty. Back in the 70s, the economy was really bad. There were nine of us, brothers and sisters, and my dad was making four dollars an hour, so we grew everything that we ate. And if we weren’t growing it, we were going to a farm, that was in our family, and harvesting what was available. We canned and processed food together. I grew up like that. I grew up in farm country.
I walk into my mom’s kitchen and find homemade noodles on the counter. I smell chicken soup, a wonderful smell. I am with my siblings and my mom, and everyone is talking.
One of my food memories is from when I was a child. In this memory, I’m probably no more than seven or eight. My mother is making noodles and these noodles are laying all over the counters. We would come home from school for lunch. That was typical where we lived. So when I would come home, we would usually have soup. There would be strips of noodles all over the countertops throughout the kitchen. My parents had rebuilt a basement house, so when they rebuilt my mom got a brand new kitchen, instead of just a basement. She had so much more space to dry the noodles! I remember how the homemade noodles would thicken the soup, because they are coated in flour. I also distinctly remember that I was not to touch the drying noodles!
I always wanted to be in the kitchen with her, making the food. She would always tell me not to touch the noodles! I didn’t get to help her much, she wasn’t that kind of mom. She was very clean. When I was raising my children, I always let them help me. I remember having my son, at two years old, sitting at the table with flour everywhere. I was making bread and he was helping.
As a young girl, I would come in for lunch and my mom would be standing behind the stove. I would walk in through the living room to the kitchen, and she would be surrounded by all the drying noodles. The bowls would already be on the table, so we could quickly sit down, have lunch and return to school.
When my family moved to New Jersey, people just didn’t do these things, make their food from scratch. I would think: You buy bread in the store? You buy dinner in a box? What is that? This was really an important time for me though. This is when I recognized my passion for food quality. When I was growing up, my mother made everything we ever ate, so when we moved to New Jersey and people went to the store to buy mixes and stuff in boxes, I just couldn’t believe it.
As I got older, and married, I knew I wanted to continue farming. When my husband and I moved to our house in Jackson, we were going to have a whole acre of land! I can grow a lot of food on a whole acre! I was going to grow as much food as I could. We started growing greens and spinach and tomatoes and cucumbers…whatever I could possibly come up with! Then I would begin canning everything…to me that was what people did. I’ve always wanted to grow as much food as I can. I don’t want to buy food from the grocery store. I always ask: Where is your food coming from? Can you eat food that is only five-hundred miles from your house? I began watching videos on this whole subject matter…of living within your region.
The noodles were soft, yet firm because they were air-drying. The water in the pot would start to bubble and boil. My mom would then say, ‘Okay, now you can put the noodles into the water!’ I smell the pasta cooking and the chicken soup warming.
I used to be a very sickly person. My immune system was so compromised. So, my husband and I started to look at every aspect of the food we were eating. We were growing all of our vegetables, so he came up with the concept of growing our own wheat, buying organic wheat berries and making our own flour. There is very little nutrition in store bought flour, so we started grinding our own flour, because it was much higher in nutrition.
Then we start buying raw milk. In New Jersey that is illegal, so I started a milk co-op, where every three weeks I would drive up to Pennsylvania, cross the border and buy milk. Everyone would meet at a member’s house to distribute the milk, and the next week, someone else would go. It was a very small co-op, but I loved it! Eventually we also decided we were only going to eat locally farm-raised meat. So we began to only buy local farm meat, which was very expensive in New Jersey, but my husband fixed his cholesterol problem and no longer needed to take medication.
Chicken soup was a staple in my house growing up and was a staple for my kids growing up, too. Another big staple for my family are cinnamon rolls. We always have them with soup at Christmas! It is our big thing…cinnamon rolls and soup!
I learned from a young age the benefits of growing and making all of the food you can, and that developed into learning about eating regionally…eating what is seasonal and raised in your local region. I have always had a deep passion for knowing where our food comes from and the quality of that food.
Growing plants is a passion of mine that goes back to my childhood where we grew our food. I got really into growing food when I was raising my children on 1 acre in New Jersey. In November of 2010 we moved to Kentucky where we bought land and Faith Lane Flowers was born. I took the same practice of growing food and started a business selling local flowers. You can find our bouquets in local shops and businesses.
[ Patricia Bunk is photographed on her property in Springfield, Kentucky on 120mm film. ]