Cast Iron Idaho is a blog about food and farming here in Boise, Idaho. Cast Iron is based on our philosophy that happiness can’t be purchased and consumed, it must be created. We hope to inspire you to create some of your own happiness out of the most basic of every day things, by cooking and eating well, growing some of your own food, going on an adventure, making music, art, or whatever you do.
The title Cast Iron comes from not only our love of Cast Iron cookware, which we use daily, but our love of the most basic and natural of things. Strong, solid Cast Iron reminds us of meals cooked over campfires, of frying fresh-caught fish and vegetables straight from the garden.
Cast Iron authors Katie Painter and Marty Camberlango cook and farm in Boise. Marty is the owner and operator of City Gardens, and Katie directs Global Gardens, a non-profit farm for new immigrant farmers. We live TV-free. We like to grow our own food and cook together, and work on any number of other random do-it-yourself projects. We also like to hike and visit hot springs in our beautiful state of Idaho. We got a canoe for Christmas, so we’re really excited to start exploring in that, too. Read on for more about us!
About Katie: I am originally from Maryland and have lived in a bunch of places, including Paraguay where I was a Peace Corps volunteer, Ecuador, Brazil, Florida, and Angola. I moved to Idaho for a job and am currently the coordinator for Global Gardens, an agriculture project for refugee farmers in Boise. I recently achieved local fame as the star of a television commercial featuring our project.
More about Katie:
My interests in food and farming were cultivated in childhood, when I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ dairy farm, and was raised by a mom who cooked, gardened, composted, and canned, long before these things were trendy. After college I joined the Peace Corps and went to Paraguay for two years. Most of my hands-on growing skills come from the long, hot Paraguayan summers that I spent planting manioc and corn, picking cotton, gardening with the women, and learning to plow with two oxen and butcher chickens and pigs.
Retuning to the US, I enrolled in a masters’ program at the University of Florida and did research with cocoa bean farmers in Brazil. Most of them were brand-new farmers, having participated in one of Brazil’s many landless worker movements. After graduate school, I consulted on a coffee production project in Angola, an African country emerging from 30 years of civil war. Most of the farmers were returning to their native lands after an absence of decades. After working with cotton growers in Paraguay, cocoa bean growers in Brazil, and coffee growers in Angola, I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of growing so many things that people can’t eat, and that farmers still can’t earn a living growing, and ready to get back to a farming system that focused on food.
So, now I’m in Idaho, growing vegetables with African and Asian refugees who have done some farming before. Living in Boise has been an adjustment and a challenge, but I’m trying to enjoy life where I’m at these days, cooking meals with Marty and enjoying beautiful Idaho when I get some time.
Who is Farmer Marty?
I was born in 2004 on sunny and warm February afternoon in an empty lot on 19th and Idaho. As if the cosmic forces had spun together the most perfect winter for just such a moment. It had been a warm January allowing our small gang of neighborhood ner’do wells to clear and double dig the entire 1/8 of an acre. Finally, On a sunny February day, very near valentines day, we planted garlic.
In 2004 Casey O’Leary (Earthly Delights) and I started a small CSA called Local Grub. We practiced “human powered farming” on small neighborhood plots around downtown Boise, Idaho. Back in the day, I would supplement my income by working in local restaurants like Leku Ona, Mortimer’s and Cafe de Paris.
In 2007 I began farming on my own. City Gardens was started on a 1 1/2 Acres on Hill Rd. My home base is in the heart of old town Garden City on the south bank of the Boise River. This is where I live and germinate for the farm.
I learned to farm in the mountains outside Ashland, Or in a small town called Trail at Whistling Duck, now located in the Applegate Valley. My mentor farmers farm in Prospect, Oregon at Upper Rogue Organics. I love farming, but eating is where this all began and ultimately ends.
Farmer Marty is For Hire! Now days I do yard maintenance on the side to help pay the bills. (208)713-1675. Large acreage, small neighborhood lots and custom work!