Thursday, February 29 2024 10:33

Brandywine Table: Journey into the Heart of Maria’s Garden

Written by Courtney H. Diener-Stokes
Rodale images courtesy of the Rodale family

Obsessive grower, cook, eater and preserver carries on the family legacy

Maria Rodale

When I think of women leaders in our region worthy of recognition for their role in food, Maria Rodale is among the first to come to mind. Maria is known for her personal and professional work, which has centered on continuing the mission set out by her grandfather and father over 75 years ago as pioneers of organic farming.

The Rodale legacy — ranging from organic farming institutes across the nation to publishing in the health and wellness sector — is one that inspired Maria to author six books, helm Rodale Press as its CEO for 10 years and currently serve on the Board of the Rodale Institute in Kutztown.

A prolific gardener and cook, Maria continues to inspire in her unique way, most recently through her latest book, Love, Nature, Magic: Shamanic journeys into the heart of my garden. In this book, she shares her new, more spiritual relationship with gardening that has greatly impacted her approach and liberated her in the process.

Ten years ago, Maria’s interest in shamanic journeying, a way of communicating with your inner or spirit self to the rhythmic sound of a drum to discover insights, was tied into her CEO role that required her to explore the edges of health, wellness and the environment. Along the way, she began applying what she learned to her personal life, transforming the way she gardens and interacts with nature. “I found through the process that what we have been taught about nature and how we landscape and garden have nothing to do with what nature really wants,” she says.

J.I. Rodale, grandfather

This newfound awareness, which involves the engagement of her inner wisdom and a collaborative approach, led her from striving to achieve a perfectly designed garden to actually listening to it. “If we ask, nature responds by creating this amazing abundance,” she says.

Last year Maria decided to stop weeding her garden and found it to be just as beautiful with weeds as without. She finds this relaxed approach towards growing food to be much more joyful and fun than one centered on control, order and fear. “Nature wants to be wild and wants freedom,” she says. “It took me decades to learn that I’m not the one in control.”

Robert Rodale, father

Maria’s time in the kitchen these days is centered on a diet that’s free of refined sugars and gluten, and low in salt. A self-professed obsessive grower, cook, eater and preserver, Maria enjoys cooking for her three daughters and two grandchildren just as much as she enjoys cooking for herself. Right now she’s craving a salad made using freshly picked greens.

Read on for some no-fuss recipes that make use of early goodies from the garden.

Read More

Our Favorite Resources