Saturday, January 15, 2011

Post #200! Past, Present and Future at After the Harvest!

Hello After the Harvest readers! I hope you are having a great day and enjoying some tasty food and drink with some good people. If this is your first visit to After the Harvest, welcome! I can't believe it, but this is my 200th post! Thank you to everyone who has been with me thus far on my journey.

I felt this might be a fitting time to chat about what After the Harvest is, why I do what I do, and what I have planned for the future. So, I invite you to take a little trip with me through the past, present and future, and why not help me raise a glass to post #200! I couldn't have done it without you.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Styggiti

As my new Projects Page discusses, I am going to be expanding After the Harvest through various projects that will benefit people, food related initiatives and the environment. I understand that with these projects, I am essentially asking for help in many forms, one being donations, (at least with Project #1 anyhow), so with this in mind, I wanted to speak directly to my readers. Not all of the projects will require financial donations, but if you'd like to help out with any of the future After the Harvest Projects, it might be nice to know who and what you're helping, right? Thus, the how, what and why of After the Harvest:

I started After the Harvest in August of 2009 because I had moved from Toronto back to the Ottawa area, and was looking for work. There is only so much job-searching one person can do without yearning to use her time in a different way! I figured if I got out and interviewed some people I might make connections, and new ideas would take shape. So, I started blogging, and After the Harvest was born. I have always known that I love to write, so that was a no-brainer. I was inspired by the myriad of foodie experiences that I had been a part of during my time in Toronto, so I decided to write about food and drink. I stumbled across an extremely inspiring blog that instantly felt like home to me, and it gave me the confidence to keep blogging.

I didn't know anything about blogging when I started. I learned as I went. I encourage all of you to start your own blog about something you enjoy -- it is so much fun and very rewarding. I don't think you need to follow any rules -- I certainly don't! When I first started, people told me, "You have to post every day", and "You have to have lots of pictures -- lots of food porn". At first because I wasn't working, I did have the time to post frequently, but I wasn't sure if my photos were good enough to publish. But, as I went along, I got better, and although I'm no professional, I can point and shoot and I am really starting to enjoy photography. Obviously I don't post every day, and some of my photos are not my own, but that is all ok! In the end, I don't think anyone can tell you "how to blog". Just blog however you want! That's the beauty of self-publishing.

Not every blog is alike, and not every food blog is alike. Some food bloggers review restaurants, some provide comprehensive culinary guides to cities, some share homemade recipes or wine picks, and some relate personal stories of life on the farm. We are all different, and we all do what we do for different reasons. I love that the internet is so vast that it holds space for all of us.

When I began blogging, the first story that really got me going was the one about Jesse from Vegetable Patch. I didn't know anyone in Ottawa, but I called Jesse up and asked him if I could join him in the garden for a few hours. He was instantly gracious and obliged. More people should spend a few hours or a day in a vegetable garden -- it is really fun! Right away I knew I was on the right track, deciding to write about people who had a passion for food, whether they were growing it, cooking it, serving it or fighting for food issues. I am grateful to everyone thus far who has agreed to spend time with me and answer my questions -- everyone I've ever profiled or interviewed has been absolutely gracious and willing to share. Thank you! You are all an inspiration!

Like I said in my "About Me" section -- I have always been passionate about food. I love how it connects people, serves people and brings them together in a universal way.

Photo via The Lemon Kitchen

There is no rhyme or reason to when or how I "blog". I share stories when I have the time and when I feel inspired. My family has always been a foodie family, so this passion comes naturally. We've been known to spend many hours at the dinner table, still talking and connecting long after the last bite has been eaten, or the last drop of wine has been sipped.

Food for me is much more than just nourishment or energy. I am lucky enough to live a lifestyle where I don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from, so for that I am grateful. I do need to investigate the origins of my food to ensure optimum health and food safety, but that is why I talk about local, sustainable food so much. In the end, food is a critical aspect of my life. To quote Jamie Oliver (again), "I profoundly believe that the power of food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life."

image via

Over this past year and a half, I have had many people ask me if I'm getting paid to blog, or if I make money from blogging. No, I do not make money from After the Harvest -- I do it for free. Many bloggers do make money by hosting ads on their blogs, agreeing to promote and review products for money (or free samples) and by setting up deals with other businesses to promote products. I have no qualms with what other bloggers do -- I respect them all because they are making their own choices that work for them. In the future, I may end up using my blog to advertise businesses and causes I believe in, but for now I am choosing to promote things within the blog posts, when the moment feels right or when I genuinely want to promote that person, business or project. I am choosing to approach things in my own way, and that's cool too. There's space for us all.

We all want to live our dreams, follow our passions and do what we love, right? Well what I love is to write, and my dream is to use that passion to help others through After the Harvest. The ideas are slowly taking shape, and I will share them with you as time unfolds, but for now just know that there is a lot of energy behind this keyboard, and I want to use it for good!

So why am I asking for your help with my projects? I have chosen to use this blog to give back to the community, both local and worldwide; food-related initiatives and causes; and environmental causes. I will be contributing to these causes myself, but in order to make any real change, I am calling on my friends, family and readers to also help out! By contributing to an After the Harvest project, you will be able to donate easily and securely through PayPal.

So now that you know what After the Harvest is about and where it plans to go, I want to thank you for your time and attention! Without readers, my blog is more of a one-way conversation. I really enjoy reading your comments and emails, and I want to say thanks for keeping After the Harvest on your online reading list. Although this post is not a swan song, I feel that I need to thank some special people who have really inspired me to keep going.

My gratitude goes out to: my parents and my grandmother for their constant love and support; my sisters, both wise and creative in their own unique ways; the rest of my extended family for their love and mutual enjoyment of food and drink; my friends, who are scattered around this world but are still with me every day; Tiny Brushstrokes for the beautiful custom After the Harvest image; my JK family who inspired me daily; my cousin Chris for introducing me to Vegetable Patch; my Whole Foods family who taught me so much; my wine teachers at George Brown College; the lovely people at Good Food Revolution and OCTA; my fellow food bloggers; everyone I've ever interviewed for After the Harvest; everyone who has ever shared a link from After the Harvest on Facebook or Twitter; and last, but certainly not least, my SuperForest family, who inspire me on a daily basis. THANK YOU!

In closing, I have a lot of dreams and plans, and I want to use my knowledge of, and passion for food and drink as a vehicle to serve others and make a difference. I thank you for your support: in the form of dollars, comments, retweets, shares or just good food and drink and great conversation.

May you always eat, drink and connect in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable.
Love, Heather

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