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Winding path: Gardening, fiction passions take writer on journey beneath the soil

August 2, 2011
photo - Sandra Knauf publishes Greenwoman Magazine, containing articles on sustainable gardening and the stories of people who are passionate about gardening. Photo by GENNA ORD, THE GAZETTE
Sandra Knauf publishes Greenwoman Magazine, containing articles on sustainable gardening and the stories of people who are passionate about gardening. Photo by GENNA ORD, THE GAZETTE 

Do you like to prop up in bed and flip through seed catalogs, looking for vegetable varieties to try in your garden? If so, you’ll want to add one more publication to the stack on your bedside table: Greenwoman Magazine.

But this is not another seed catalog. Rather, it’s a unique garden magazine, subtitled, “A Literary Garden of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Commentary, Biography, Art and Comics.”

It’s the brainchild of Sandra Knauf, the editor-in-chief, who lives in Old Colorado City and is self-publishing the magazine. In her editor’s letter, she writes, “I started the magazine for one reason — I believe in the transformative power of connecting with nature. Like you, I make this connection through gardening.”

When she discovered garden writing, a genre she had not known existed, she decided to become as close to an expert as possible. She signed up for the Colorado State University Master Gardener course.

“On the first day of class I introduced myself and said I was ‘taking the course because I wanted to learn everything I could about gardening and I wanted to be a garden writer,’” she emailed.

It was not long before she gained significant notice for her writing. She won first place in the 2000 Pikes Peak Writers Conference in the Creative Nonfiction category for her story “The Chicken Chronicles,” a memoir based on her backyard chicken experience.

“This was the first story I had written as a garden writer,” she said.

But, for Knauf, like so many before her, the self-publishing journey has been a long one — starting with a seed of desire to be a published writer. She was interested in spreading her passion about gardening, sustainability and the environment.

“I read Ariel Gore’s book, ‘How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead,’ and her point was to find a way to be published, even if you have to do it yourself — like the DIY (do-it-yourself) trend,” she said.

Then she stumbled onto a way.

“I was in The Leechpit, talking to Adam Leech, telling him I’d like to get my writing out,” she said. “He suggested doing it with zines.”

The Leechpit, owned by Adam Leech, is on North Nevada Avenue and specializes in vintage memorabilia collections.

Haven’t heard of zines before?

“They came from the punk rock movement,” Knauf explained. “They were free fan magazines that were left on seats at concerts. They did not have any commercials, which appealed to me. The idea has morphed to cover all sorts of topics aside from punk rock.”

Her first zine, Issue No. 1 of Greenwoman, was printed in May of 2008 on mostly recycled paper and tied together with jute twine. Six zines are in Knauf’s collection, covering honeybees, backyard chickens, and flowering and vegetable plants. The zines and her blog, greenwomanzine .com, have helped sprout a growing readership.

“With the success of the zines, I decided to self-publish a full-scale magazine,” she said. “I planned to do two a year at first.”

This first issue has a collection of articles from well-respected authors on raising strawberries and chickens. There are updates on seeds we are planting and sustainable gardening, plus some poetry and fiction to spice up late-night reading.

And, depending on the topic, there will be recipes like the honey recipes that were included in Knauf’s Greenwoman zine issue No. 3. She introduced the recipes with the following explanation:

“One night a few years ago, when I belonged to a garden club, we had a bee-themed meeting. A beekeeper gave a lecture and slide show, and the gardeners brought in recipes made with honey. We shared our recipes and had a contest with prizes. My then-elementary-school-aged daughters helped me make baklava. I can’t remember details about the lecture, but I still remember the thrill when our baklava won first prize! One of the girls chose a prize, a ceramic skep-shaped honey pot. The recipe we used came off the box of phyllo (or filo) dough and it’s pretty standard.

“The second-place winner was honey ice cream, and it was divine.”

The recipes follow.

You won’t find Greenwoman Magazine on the newsstands just yet. But you can find it at greenwoman, or write to Greenwoman Magazine, P.O. Box 6587, Colorado Springs 80934.


Yield: 4 cups

1 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2/3 cup lavender honey

1. Split open vanilla bean and scrape seeds into large saucepan. Add the bean. Pour in cream and milk and bring mixture just to boiling. Remove from heat and stir in honey until it dissolves thoroughly. Cover saucepan and let mixture steep about 20 minutes.
2. Once cooled, strain and transfer liquid to a container. Cover container with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, then churn in an ice cream maker, or freeze in a shallow container, whisking occasionally to break down the ice crystals.

“The Hive — The Story of the Honeybee and Us,” by Bee Wilson


Yield: 24 servings

1 pound chopped walnuts or blanched almonds
1/2 cup sugar
Ground cinnamon and cloves, to taste
1 (16-ounce) package phyllo dough
1 cup melted unsalted butter to brush on filo sheets

1 cup honey
2 cups each water and sugar
A few peels from lemons or oranges, removed with a swivel peeler
1 cinnamon stick

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. For the baklava: Grind almonds or walnuts. Combine nuts with sugar and spices; mix well. 3. Brush 11-by-7-by-2-inch baking tray with some of the melted butter.
4. Place two filo sheets on bottom of buttered pan. (Keep a damp towel to cover other sheets while you are assembling.) Spread some of the walnut mixture evenly over leaves. Place two or more filo sheets on top. Again brush with butter and repeat layering process until tray is filled. Place last three filo sheets on top, brush with butter and score top sheets in square or diamond shapes with a pointed knife.
5. Bake 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake 45 minutes, or until top becomes golden brown. Let cool.
6. While baklava is cooling, make syrup by combining ingredients in pot and boiling 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then pour syrup over baklava.

Sandra Knauf, Greenwoman Magazine

Call Farney at 636-0271. Hear her “KVOR Table Talk” radio show noon to 1 p.m. Saturdays on 740 AM.

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