‘Homegrown’ Interview with Author Heather Hardison


Photo Credit: Heather Hardison

Summertime is the best time to try go out and try new things. So when I went to an author event in my local library, Heather Hardison was talking about her new book Homegrown, and her book inspired me to start learning the ins and and outs of gardening and cooking. Heather’s book will make you want to garden, trust me. Her illustrations in the book are what immediately caught my attention. They were bright, clean depictions of all the ingredients that you would need for each recipe, and even the lettering in the book was amazing. She is a gifted illustrator who knows her way around the kitchen and garden.

Trust me when I say that when you get yourself a copy of Homegrown, you too will want to plant you own garden and begin to cook your own meals, especially if you are like me and have little cooking experience and have the pizza guy on speed dial.

Her book is broken down into the different seasons then goes into depth further as to what is in season during that time and how to grow the ingredients, properly cook them, and much more. Heather’s book is in an easy to follow format. Overall, it is a gorgeous and charming book that is a comprehensive garden of what to grow and how to properly prepare your fruits and veggies.


Photo Credit: Heather Hardison

We had the lovely opportunity to chat with the author and illustrator of Homegrown, Heather Hardison, about her inspiration when writing the book, her advice on shopping on a tight budget, and much more.

1.What inspired you to write Homegrown?

I was inspired to start writing about food and illustrating food after moving to California from North Carolina in 2009. My first job after moving here was at a restaurant that made all local and seasonal food and cooked everything from scratch. That was my first exposure to cooking that way, and I loved it. I started my illustrated food blog, Illustrated Bites, in 2010 to chronicle everything that I was learning about food. The book came from the blog.

2. For ones who are on a tight budget, where are your favorite places to get fresh food?
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If you have green space, or access to a community garden, growing your own food is an incredibly affordable way to get seasonal fresh food. If you’re shopping in grocery stores or markets, fresh whole foods are actually a lot more affordable than packaged food and definitely more affordable than eating out. A lentil curry made with carrots, a head of cauliflower, a potato, and lentils served with rice will cost under $10 to make a feed a whole family.


Photo Credit: Heather Hardison

3. What was the selection process like when deciding what recipes to include in your book?

I would make a list of the vegetables and fruits that were in season and would just start brainstorming ideas of what I could make with them. Once I had a few solid ideas, I would start tinkering with the recipes, and making different variations to try and make it as simple but as delicious as possible. I also wanted the produce to be front and center in the recipe, not just a background component. Sometimes the idea I had for a recipe would just fall flat and I would start over, but some I hit the nail on the head in just a few tries. It was lot of recipe testing and trial and error (but very fun and delicious).


Photo Credit: Heather Hardison

4.What were some of the easiest and hardest parts of putting Homegrown together?

The whole process was difficult, but also very rewarding.  This was my first book, and I had a whole lot to learn. I wrote the book, developed the recipes, made all the illustrations, and designed the layout of the book. Each step had its own set of unique challenges. Doing the illustrations was the part of the book that I was most familiar with, so I suppose that was the easiest. But there was so many illustrations, it sure didn’t feel very easy! Even though it was such a challenging project,  I really had fun making it. 

5. What would you like our readers to take away from your book?

I would like them to feel inspired to grow and cook some of their own food. Could be as simple as growing some herbs on your windowsill. Growing and cooking your own food is so rewarding and delicious, but it doesn’t have to be a huge commitment.

Author Bio:

Heather Hardison is a letterer and illustrator who specializes in sign painting & food illustration. She is the author and illustrator of the book Homegrown: Illustrated Bites from Your Garden to Your Table. 

Camille lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. You will most likely find her wandering around local bookstores, going to a concert or enjoying the sights of the city by the bay. This Captain America fangirl enjoys attending book events, re-watching her favorite Disney movies and obsessing over the latest entertainment news. You can find her on Twitter @itscamille_ann.