Don't you just love how blogging can connect you to people you might not otherwise have met? I know I sure am. I have met some amazingly talented writers and cooks, farmers and parents, foodies and funnies. That is where I became friends with Kimberli Maloy. Part musician, part farmer, part forager, all funny and compassionate- we always have something interesting to talk about. We both live in Iowa, not close by, but close enough to visit !! I hope this spring we can get together and forage- maybe mushrooms, ramps, she is very knowledgeable about foraged foods.
Kimberli is very active in music and performing. She also raises herbs on a large scale. So she is a woman of many talents and someone with a story to tell. Since I have been doing these mini-interviews, I asked her if she would be willing to play along and of course, she said yes. So everyone, get to know Kimberli- you'll be glad you did!
I have always loved being outdoors and worked in restaurants since I was 14 (we won’t say how many years that is!), so it was a natural thing for me to be interested in what flavored my food. But I met someone who was a licensed herbologist and got very interested in a healthy lifestyle, including herbal medicine and gourmet foods, about 15 years ago. Initially I was making herb infused vinegars and herb jellies (still make the jellies) but when I started apprenticing with the herbologist I was hooked – both culinary and medicinal herbs.
2. I gather you follow the same "business model" as a CSA offering shares to customers during the growing season. Who is your typical customer? Restaurants or individual?
Well, I offered shares a couple times so that model was part of what I do, but this year I am only offering a very few shares to close friends and family. I *do* grow herbs for Cultivate Hope CSA so what I grow is part of those shares, but I’m not in charge of anything but contributing – and that’s fine with me. The few shares I do offer consist of herbs, wild foods (morels, berries, nuts, greens, other mushrooms) and heirloom vegetables that are part of what we grow for ourselves. As far as Destiny’s Garden goes, our primary customers are area restaurants. I think last year we sold 60-80 pounds of sweet basil, our biggest seller.
3. What is your FAVORITE of all herbs?
That’s so hard to say! I love basils and grow 10-12 different varieties each year, but I think my personal favorites are a close tie between cilantro (coriander leaf) and rosemary. It’s a tie.
4. What is one herb you just cannot stand?
Curled Parsley. I have never had curled parsley that wasn’t bitter and I find it too common. I prefer the flat-leaf Italian parsley, for growing, appearance and flavor.
5. Tell me about your acting and music- how did you get your start?
My father was a Broadway actor and my mother an actor and dancer. They met doing a show and brought all the magic of music and theatre to our home when they settled here in Iowa; I guess that’s where it all started for me. Since high school and after a short stint in college, I have worked dozens of professional shows (musicals and plays), done TV commercials, performed as an acoustic solo act with guitar, performed and toured with bands in different genres, and done training videos and studio voice work over the years, but my first love will always be musical theatre. Currently I am working as a middle school drama director and playing with an all-female band that plays diverse styles of music – blues, rock, acoustic, covers and originals. I love it all!
6. Let’s talk about your Rubbermaid tub of seeds- do you find it hard to part with seeds sometimes? How many varieties of seeds do you think you have?
Haha – I do find it hard to part with seed! Although last year I posted to Freecycle and helped 8-10 others start or maintain gardens of their own by sharing some of my excess seed. I probably have at least 12 varieties of basil, 20 of lettuce, six of corn, a few summer squash… oh lord, I need to do an inventory! I have a couple pounds of basil seed actually; I have been giving away my ornamental seed. But I still can’t get the lid onto that Rubbermaid container… Right now I am funding a “Pay It Forward Neighborhood Garden” that I will plant and maintain in the front lot of our property. All the food will be free to anyone who wishes to help themselves, and some of the seed in my big Rubbermaid tub is being distributed to donors helping fund the project.
7. How important is it to you to remain organic?
I can’t even begin to tell you how important that is. I think the bottom line is, I would stop gardening altogether if the choices were adding chemicals or not gardening at all. I don’t put anything on my plants that I couldn’t put in my mouth (with the exception of the rotten egg and pepper spray I use to keep rabbits out –soap, rotten eggs, oil and the hottest peppers I have…tasty!).
8. What do you think about the changing thoughts on GMOs and the bans taking place?
First, I feel the need to clarify something – there is a huge difference between hybrid and GMO crops. GMO (genetically modified organisms) can be anything from altering the DNA of the original plant to crossing it with that of another species – including animals. Hybrids are simply crosses between two parent plants. I am all for banning GMOs completely. It isn’t real food, it is a science experiment aimed at making more money and more crops to make more money (endless cycle of poisoning the planet) and it is very easy for organic farmers such as myself to have our crops contaminated by pollen from the GMO fields by wind or bees, which the GMO crops are killing off. I could rant for hours about the evils of GMOs and pray that the United States follows the lead of other countries who have banned their use entirely.
9. Do you have a favorite heirloom vegetable or herb?
Hmmmm… I love Cherokee Purple and Brandywine tomatoes, but there are so many to choose from! My favorite heirloom herb is the Purple Ruffles Opal Basil – its lovely to look at, has an amazing aroma, makes a pretty garnet colored jelly and it tastes GREAT. How is a girl to choose??
10. Give me ten random facts about Kimberli.
- I love trout fishing - alone.
- My favorite color is brown, chocolate brown.
- My favorite smell is freshly tilled soil
- I only have one food I cannot stand – oatmeal
- I have six grandchildren with one more on the way
- I spent three years as a summer camp director
- I have written 6 full length musicals, dozens of original songs, a stack of bad poetry, a United Way campaign song, a couple of political campaign pieces (with orchestration) and one children’s book.
- I like to work when nobody else is around because I get easily distracted – LOOK!!! SQUIRREL!!!!
- I am passionate about foraging wild foods, especially mushrooms, and am certified in the state of Iowa as a Morel Mushroom Identification Specialist. Cool title, huh?
- I once ate a chocolate covered grasshopper and a half a rattlesnake.
Don't you just want to hang out with this woman ??? I know I do !! Now that our Iowa winter is gradually making it's exit I'm hoping we can make plans to get together- hunt mushrooms, watch wildlife, or just sit with a couple glasses of wine and chat about life.