By Dorothy Holderbaum
Ever just want to drop out of your hectic life and get back to basics? Maybe buy a little plot of land next to a peaceful lake and grow your own herbs, flowers or vegetables? Well, that's what Dorothy Holderbaum did many years ago, and she's never looked back.
Dorothy didn't know a lot about gardening when she and her husband Russell abandoned city life in Detroit and bought Sundown Acres located near Allegan, Michigan, just a few short minutes from Lake Michigan. "The soil was sandy and dead when we arrived," Dorothy says. "The neighbors thought we were crazy trying to grow a garden there. But we kept composting and digging and composting, and soon the soil began to come back to life."
Fascinated by the rich Native American history of Allegan and the wealth of information about gardening, she researched old herbal books and local folklore. Dorothy quickly became a student of nature. Soon she knew the birds, bees and insects of Sundown Acres like old friends. She began to look forward to each season as it brought out new neighbors from the woods in the form of chipmunks, squirrel, deer and owls to keep her company and help her in her gardening efforts. Over the next few years, life for Russell and Dorothy changed dramatically.
When they moved to Sundown, Russell was beginning to suffer from diabetes. Dorothy studied nutrition and worked hard to raise healthy foods to feed Russell that helped control his symptoms. In the process she found her own health improved. Soon she fell in love with the process of planting tiny seeds in fresh turned soil and watching them grow rapidly into something she could cook and serve on the dinner table, or freeze and can for winter.
"Having things canned and frozen was like storing up treasure," Dorothy says. Before long neighbors began to consult her on her strategies for growing such wonderful herbs and beautiful flowers. For years, Dorothy wrote about her experiences and shared her recipes in the Allegan newspaper. Those columns soon grew into a book. In addition she was hired by Rodale to do research on the planting, cultivation and harvesting of amaranth. Over the years, she's done presentations for countless libraries, and garden clubs. She's also appeared on WKZO TV Studio, to discuss herbs and their healing properties. During this time Dorothy was a guest on the "Suzanne Geha Show" in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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