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We live on a cattle ranch way out in the middle of nowhere in central Texas.
Living in Denton, Texas in the early 1990s we thought about retiring and we looked into it but decided we couldn't afford to retire even after working for over 30 years and there seemed little point in investing any more time in what we were doing so we just quit our jobs in the DFW metroplex and moved to the country to grow herbs and garlic organically and help work the family ranch.
In my life I have spent about ten years in the home office of health insurance companies but I was not happy with the work and spent another ten years in the two-way radio business but the coming of cell phones put an end to that. I then spent 13 years in the microcomputer industry and wound up being a management consultant. When you're over 50 and no one will hire you for fear of their insurance premiums going up, you either call yourself and consultant and hustle work wherever you can find it or you call yourself unemployed. My last client was the Supercollider and when it went belly-up, there just wasn't anything else I wanted to do or anyone else I wanted to work for so I chucked it all to become a ranchhand for my aging father-in-law. I worked for nine years for room and board only, no income except our farmers market income until the website traffic grew to the point where it required my full time involvement.
It is amazing how much richer life can be when you quit seeking the things you didn't want to begin with but only pursued because you thought others expected you to.
We love the country, living simply and doing hard farm and ranch work. Life is good. We grow much of our food in the family garden and dry, can or freeze food for the winter. Gourmets can only dream about food that tastes this good.
We live in an old, uninsulated wood-frame house much like people used to live in 100 years ago, except that we use a large terra cotta firepot (freestanding Kiva fireplace) for heat instead of an iron pot-bellied stove. About the only difference is the carport that was added in 1950 and the computer in the corner of the front room, next to the TV that quit working a long time ago - but nobody cares. We don't have a stereo or anything although there's a portable radio around here somewhere that also plays tapes, we seldom use it. If I want music, I just play my Indian flute (I have a little Choctaw in me - not so's you would notice, mind you, but I WAS born in Oklahoma).
You wouldn't believe the stars out here on a clear night. When my friend, Ron Johnson brings his big telescope for the weekend, it's like visiting another planet ( See Fantasy Tour).
Things we like:
At the urging of Madonna Kimbal of the Hill Country Sun, I have decided to bring this part of the website up to date. Things have changed a little bit since I originally built this page but have had so many things going on that I have just not taken time to upgrade it and now I have been properly shamed into it and so I will try to make it interesting and will be adding some new pictures soon (We've both gained a little weight.)
We no longer live in the old white wood frame house. We ran out of water in the drought of 1998 - 2000 and fixed up an old red brick house that was built on another part of the ranch in 1929 and had a creek for a water supply. It's a roomier house built in the Arts and Crafts style that was popular then and has large live oak trees in front and back. Live oaks are different from regular oak trees in that they have rounded leaves and keep their leaves all winter long and shed them a little at a time in the spring so it is never completely bare and provides welcome shade yearound.
We had a working TV again for a while and could get several local channels from Abilene and San Angelo; no public TV, though. Doesn't matter anyway, a storm took out the antenna and mast and lightning fried the TV set about six months ago and we don't miss it a bit. We actually read and have intelligent conversations now and get a lot more things done. At this point we don't even want a TV, at least not for personal viewing pleasure though we may get one as part of our venture into producing videos about garlic.
Merridee is again a herbalist after spending a decade in social service administration and ranchland habitat conservation and while we were building our website and internet business she had to have a job in town so we could continue to live in the country.
We've had our share of ups and downs out here; a lot of free national publicity on the one hand and droughts, flooding, a tornado and invasions of grasshoppers on the other. The financial rewards of Merridee's job vs. the family disruptions that occur when one works away from the ranch were always a dilemma. We hope to be able to make enough money with the garlic business that Merridee can work at home with me and not have to go back to work outside.
We started off selling garlic and herbs in the local farmers markets. We soon realized there was not enough of a market locally so I put together the website and set up our farmers market stand beside the information superhighway instead of the local highway and the rest is history.
I must confess it has been very ego-gratifying to be out in the middle of nowhere, seeing few people and still get recommended by the NY Times, SF Chronicle and a several page story in the Dallas Morning News and also Food and Wine, Forbes Magazine, Texas Gardener, Organic Gardening, Mother Earth News, the American Botanical Council's Herbalgram among other magazines. I really didn't do anything but put together the website and they saw it and called me. These days I get a lot of email and phone calls and I have become the "Dear Abby" of garlic. I don't mind a bit as I really enjoy it.
Another change is that I used to sell only what I grew but now I also buy from other small organic and sustainable growers across the country and sell it nationwide through the website. It works well for everybody. I think in the future, the small growers will sell directly to people nationwide through a garlic growers farmers market I will be putting in during the next year or two.
I attended all the Garlic is Life Symposia and listened to the lectures of many highly qualified research scientists about garlic and have been able to learn a great deal about all aspects of garlic, especially the chemistry and health benefits of garlic directly from the researchers themselves. We spent the better part of four days together and you get to know one another rather well in that time. This was the only place they could go to be able to meet with like-minded others and discuss their work and results and now there may not be any more. Darrell Merrell, the sponsor, has passed away now so there will be no more symposia until there is a new sponsor. Having many face to face meetings with these experts over coffee, lunch or dinner has given me not only a very good understanding of the current state of things in the garlic industry and also the ability to call each of them as friends and ask questions and discuss things as old friends rather than strangers. It is an enormous advantage at times in being able to get the latest scoop about what's going on in the world of garlic.
When I first started putting this website together I really didn't know much about garlic but I liked it and I enjoyed growing it. Because of the brain boosts I have been freely given by my friends in the more technical aspects of garlic, I now feel capable of discussing it with just about anyone on whatever level they want to discuss it. I have put much of the knowledge I have absorbed into the website and that has made it one of the most comprehensive and accurate garlic sites on the internet. I feel good about having disseminated as much information as I have to as many people as I have, but there is much more to be done. I feel kind of like the Johnnie Appleseed of garlic and I like it.
I would like to put together a series of seminars on the health benefits of garlic, the cooking secrets of garlic, the growing and storing of garlic and other topics for which there is interest. We will produce these on DVDs so everyone will be able to get the information without having to travel to go to a lecture. Garlic is growing in popularity daily and I like to think I'm doing my part to help that.
On a more personal side, I now have an 8" Dobsonian telescope and I love it. Our dark skies make amateur astronomy a natural hobby out here. I have been visiting Paint Rock and playing my Indian flute there and saw a lot of the pictographs often enough and have figured out the meaning of some of them - they were astronomic in nature, but you would have to be an astronomer to relate to the some of the pictographs. I feel immensly proud to have figured them out and am working on more not only at Paint Rock but other pictograph (painted images) and petroglyph (carved or scratched images) sites throught the country.If you are interested, Click Here to see and read about the amazing pictographs at Paint Rock, Texas.
For more details of what has been going on around the garlic patch,
click here to read our ongoing newsletter.
More Pictures Soon.
How to buy from us:
Scroll down and select the number of pounds you want and click on "Add to Cart" on all those you want to buy.
Order now for shipment in late summer/early fall 2012.
The garlic prices range from $16 to $24 per pound plus shipping and handling charges of $10 for the first pound, $2 for each of the next three pounds and $1 extra for each additional pound over that and we ship via U. S. Postal Service, Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation, to make sure you get your package. Our S & H charge is a weighted national average so that all buyers pay the same S & H regardless of distance from grower. These S & H fees apply to each grower you buy from.
This Farmers market is like your local farmers market.
For those who don't want to take the time to place a separate order with each grower, we will do it for you if you wish. Just order what you want from as many growers as you want on a single order and when we process the order we will charge your card the necessary additional S & H charges plus a service fee of $10.00 for each separate grower involved - there's lot of clerical work involved.
Important notes for credit/debit card users:
This Farmers market is like your local farmers market.
For those who don't want to take the time to place a separate order with each grower, we will do it for you if you wish. Just order what you want from as many growers as you want on a single order and when we process the order we will charge your card the necessary additional S & H charges plus a service fee of $10.00 for each separate grower involved due to the excess clerical work entailed.
If you buy from a grower and later cancel that order for any reason, the credit card processing gateway still charges Gourmet Garlic Gardens the full processing fee plus an additional fee of the same amount for processing the cancellation and also it places an additional clerical burden on us so, regretably, we must charge a 15% cancellation fee when processing the cancellation because that's about what it costs us. My advice is to look around among the various growers and decide what to buy from whom and then place your orders and stick with the growers you have chosen.
Prices and availability of garlic subject to change without notice.
How Our Garlics are Grown
All the garlic for sale in our online farmers market was grown without the use of petrochemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers; only natural and non-toxic fertilizers and pest control methods are used.
Some of our growers are Certified Organic and some are Certified Naturally Grown, which we regard as equal to Certified Organic in every meaningful way but without all the bureaucratic entanglements. All our farmers market growers grow organically and some are Certified Organic but not all want to be certified Organic because of the paperwork and reporting requirements and are among the best available sources of sustainable/ organic Garlic and they become Certified Naturally Grown, where the regulation comes from their fellow members rather than a federal bureacracy.
We do not allow growers who use synthetic petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides to participate in our farmers market.
All garlic in our farmers market is grown in the USA, no imports allowed.
Garlicmeister, a self-inflicted title for amusement only.
Photo courtesy of Bill Yeates.
If you would like to
communicate with us, please send email to:
Gourmet Garlic Gardens,
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Our site is always under construction. -- This page last updated August 4, 2012.
Our webpages have been visited over 3 million times since July of 1997 by people looking for the latest
information about garlic and to buy the best gourmet garlics. Thank you one and all.
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