Seen at the Elkhart County Fair + A Garden Update

David had free tickets to the Elkhart County Fair — a little perk from work — so we decided to go one night this week. I was surprised to find a huge aquaponics display, an up and coming (Amish?) business in nearby Middlebury. In addition to awareness of food security, we saw solar panels. Apparently, our friend Paul’s letter to the editor last year gained traction, because this year we also saw recycling bins and … vegetables! Now, mind you, nearly all of those vegetables were fried; however, an enterprising fair goer could find deep-fried pickles, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini. David and I also managed to find some “pit-tatoes” cooked in a BBQ pit, which were actually surprisingly yummy.

My favorite parts of the fair included the following prizewinning entry from a 5th grader:

Fairies at the Fair

And who knew Orchestral Concert Band Organs were making a comeback?!

Stinson Band Organ

Stinson Band Organ

The age of digital music has allowed a nearly forgotten “Object D’Art” of old world charm to return as an economically feasible concert quality entertainment. How lovely! David, whose father hails from Amsterdam, tells me these Orchestral Concert Band Organs are quite common in the Netherlands. What fun!

We also saw various demonstrations of Square Foot Gardening, canning contest winners, and … wait for it … The Tractor Pull Contest. OK, we had no interest in that black smoke chugging, eardrum splitting event, and it’s a good thing, too. When we went to peek at all the commotion, we were quickly ushered away: “We’re FULL!”

Well, then, I guess it’s still Northern Indiana after all, but it was nice to see acknowledgement of the benefits of organic gardening, aquaponics, off grid and low watering options, as well as touches of faery magic. A pleasant surprise before returning to the full on faery farm our yard’s becoming. πŸ™‚

This morning warmed my heart as I watched the neighbor girls run through the butterfly garden I planted for them. They were giggling and frolicking as they chased butterflies and admired sunflowers three or more times taller than they are. Another neighbor walked down to ask where I got my mulch, as he needed a tree cutter for a dead tree. I love giving my mulch guy business, and the yard has now connected us to neighbors on both sides. The eldest next door neighbor girl proudly assembled their compost bin, and the next in line has agreed to water my potted plants when I travel to the North American Permaculture Convergence later next month.

Yesterday, several strangers stopped to admire the flowers, and a group of eight Amish bicyclists smiled and nodded approvingly at the star and flowers. LOL, when Amish people smile at your garden, you know you’re doing something right!


David’s dad frequently stops by on his errands to look at flowers that remind him “of the all railroad gardens in Holland.” When David’s sister’s in town, she stops for peppermint, and last night on her way into town, she dropped off apple mint for planting. (This apple mint comes from the farm of the family friend for whom David was named. It has been in the family for over 50 years!)

A neighborhood representative yesterday dropped off notice of the neighborhood meeting in August and stopped to marvel at all the flowers, and yesterday, our giggling neighbor/mom asked her 6-year-old stepdaughter who kept craning her neck to look at the tops of the sunflowers: “Are those the biggest flowers you’ve ever seen?” The neighbors across the back alley want to order their own Garden Tower, and offered to give me strawberry plants. On other occasions, they’ve proudly opened their fence to me, so I could tour their own spectacular and secret garden.

I hosted our weekly Goshen Garden Gals Gathering this past Wednesday, and one of the attendees went on and on about what an eyesore this property used to be — for decades. She declared that the transformation of this yard has upgraded this entire section of town from horrible to gorgeous in just two summers.

I planted this garden for many reasons — adding beauty to a blighted part of town being a major one of those reasons, because my soul needs beauty. But the way this once dilapidated, ugly spot has magically become a happy gathering place truly warms my heart. Between garden helpers trading yard work for sessions, neighbor children running through the paths to chase butterflies, neighbors chatting with me as I prune geraniums or harvest collards, and all the people dropping off cardboard boxes, coffee grounds and mulch, it’s almost like having a community garden or park on our block, and I love sharing this joy, beauty and bounty with those around.

sunnies and butterly gardens

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cheryl on July 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    You are magic, Laura Bruno. πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜ŠπŸ˜ŠπŸŒ±πŸŒ·πŸ›πŸπŸž giggling along with you & your neighbors…. ❀️


  2. ❀️❀️❀️


  3. Posted by Nikkoale on July 26, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    This post gladdens my Heart!


  4. πŸ™‚


  5. warms my heart at the joy you feel and the beauty you have created to share and transform with your community. big grin!


  6. Our street is now a big bike path, especially for kids, who ride around and around our block and back alley — all day long. Today, I started mulching the front area by the serviceberry trees. MUCH curiosity by the young girls on bikes. They kept stopping to ask, “What are you doing? What are you building?” “A garden” seemed a strange answer to them for some reason, even though they complimented the sunflowers. They just couldn’t make sense of the cardboard and mulch! Big grins, though. Between the butterflies, bees, hoverflies and dragonflies, and all these kids on bikes, this place is buzzin’ ! πŸ˜‰


  7. BZzzzzing and fertile!!!! Hugs


  8. Yes, tons of life! Hugs, Laura


  9. Posted by Mitch Mattraw on July 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    love the Amsih approving smiles, to funny, all looking beautiful!


  10. πŸ˜‰ thanks, Mitch!


  11. […] David had some vacation time giving us a long weekend from Thursday evening through Sunday, so we took the chance to play in Goshen, Mishawaka and on a little road trip to Bloomington. Fun times, indeed! Here were some of the highlights, beginning with the Elkhart County 4H Fair (David gets free passes from work, so we usually go for one short evening each year). Most people go to the Fair for food and fun. We go for the portal doors and fairy houses: […]


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: