Disease Tour, Bears and Baking

Living and running a business on a sandbar has its own quirks and challenges.  A big one is sourcing my ingredients.  Some things are ordered and delivered to the kitchen, but my staples of butter, sugar, eggs and flour require a trip to Virginia every 2-4 weeks.

I don’t dread this trip since it gives me a chance to sing or listen to business podcasts.  I also notice the passing of the seasons as I drive past the crops in the fields.  On my last trip I noticed it was almost time to harvest the wheat. I found it a little ironic that I was on my way to purchase 200 pounds of flour which recalled my days harvesting wheat from research plots during my gradual school days.  This is how I fondly refer to my MS degree in Plant Pathology (the study of plant diseases)  from the University of Georgia. My thesis was titled “The Effects of Pythium irregulare and Soil Physical Factors on Wheat Growth.”  Don’t worry, I will not get into specifics. Just know that harvesting research plots of wheat, in Georgia, is hot and scratchy and requires long pants and sleeves.

Continuing with grad school memories I also remember our Disease Tour.  No, I was not in a band.  Over spring break my fellow grad students and a willing professor got our geek on, piled into a van and traveled throughout Georgia looking at plant diseases on different crops.  We did this willingly.  I’m sure it was interesting seeing the diseases I had been learning about in the classroom, but that’s not what I remember.  What I remember is a van stuffed with students, a professor and LOTS of watermelons and peaches.  Our tour stops were at other research stations and they had a bounty of fruit. They had harvested what they needed for their research and we were allowed to pick what we wanted for ourselves.  Remember, we were grad students, not making a lot of money, and this was free food we were being offered! It was awesome.

Over the past weekend I visited the White Oak Lavender Farm again to pick up more lavender we use in our Lavender Cookies and enjoyed camping in the Shenandoah National Park.  I did not look for any diseases on their plants.  We enjoyed a hike on National Trails Day.  I did look for fungus of the edible type, with no luck, but enjoyed seeing black bears with cubs, does with fawns, a turkey, an orange salamander and a red breasted grosbeak.

From wheat and fungus to flour and baking seems like a logical transition to me. Time to open up another 50 pound bag of flour.

Happy trails and sweet regards,


hiking in Virginia