Silvia’s passion for organic gardening, nutrition, and keen interest in plants with high content of medicinal compounds led her to start a perennial medicinal herbs garden in her backyard, which included a couple of dozen garlic bulbs.
The children were small and she started teaching them the value of playing in herbicide-free lawn and growing food following organic principles, including caring for half a dozen “illegal” laying hens in the suburban neighborhood where they lived.
When their backyard garden became too small, she expanded it to the local Park District Garden Plots, where she grew more garlic, intercropped with basil and calendula. Realizing her fellow community gardeners had very limited knowledge about organic gardening, she volunteered to teach several workshops on organic gardening 101.
In late fall of 2019, she made a big leap from growing garlic in her community garden to planting over an acre of garlic at a friend’s organic farm in south west Wisconsin. When the restriction for traveling and social interaction hit a few months later due to the COVID-19 pandemic, weeding her garlic field in the spring, and cutting the garlic flowers (scapes) in the summer became her “escape” from the crazy COVID-19 atmosphere. She invited friends and family to join the farming activities. They also enjoyed being in touch with nature, and that became the inspiration, the beginning of The Garlic eScape Farm.
Dr. Silvia Abel-Caines is a Veterinarian with a MS (University of Tennessee) and PhD (University of Nebraska) degrees in Ruminant Nutrition, and is currently the Staff Ruminant Nutritionist for Organic Valley, the largest cooperative of organic farmers in the U.S. She is also an active volunteer for NGO and USAID Programs that provide trainings to farmers in South America, the Caribbean and Africa.
An advocate of sustainable food farming, she serves on the board of the National Farm to School Foundation. She believes there is an intrinsic connection between soil health, nutrient dense foods, and human health, linked through the soil ecology and our gut. The current global health challenges and lower economic conditions aggravated by the shifting climate patterns indicates this is the best time to rely on nutrient dense foods to improve human wellness and resiliency.
She understands that for most people, price-prohibitive super-foods cannot be part of the solution to improving their health. But what if real superfoods are not the next rare find from a tropical forest, but are common day-to-day-foods grown on healthy soil? She believes organic garlic is one of those super foods.