New Book Carries Late Fort Worth Gardener's Legacy

Elizabeth Samudio

Elizabeth Samudio spent a lot of her life planting seeds, not just in her garden but in the lives of the people around her. It showed in the final years of her life, when the owner of the Elizabeth Anna Urban Farm & Market set out to put her gardening expertise in a book. But having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and spending much time in the hospital, Samudio needed help raising funds to get the book published.

That's when the community stepped in. A fundraiser began for the book, and about $6,500 was raised, allowing the book to be published as planned.

But Samudio wouldn't live to see her book be released. She died from cancer last August, just four months before her book made it to her store's shelf. She was able to see a spiral bound final copy before she died, however, and knew her dream of writing a book had been fulfilled, so future generations after her could start gardens like she did.

“That was one of her biggest loves,” husband James Samudio said. “She was able to sow that in a lot of people.”

The book, The Unconventional Edible Garden: Growing Food in Texas and Other Hard and Difficult Places, is being sold at the Elizabeth Anna store and on Amazon. The book is a month-to-month guide for growing fruits, vegetables and other plants in North Texas, but it also lets readers into Elizabeth’s personal life. Scattered throughout the book are anecdotes about her childhood, friends and family, as well as the story of how she fell in love with nature.

Like gardening, writing was a natural talent for Elizabeth, having studied creative writing at TCU. She went through several editors to make sure her voice was captured in the book. James said the book is written to sound as if Elizabeth was speaking to the reader.

“It’s almost like you’re sitting down and having a cup of tea with her,” he said.

Elizabeth’s writing ability combined with one of her other passions – teaching. James said Elizabeth enjoyed teaching others how to garden, especially children, and she continued teaching even shortly before she died. Elizabeth Anna continues to offer farm camps and permaculture courses, along with consultation services for those needing advice on managing home gardens. 

Though Elizabeth is gone, James continues to run Elizabeth Anna. The urban farm, located at 2825 Eighth Ave., sells organic produce and gardening products, and also serves as home to chickens, goats and other farm animals.

The garden was a place where Elizabeth and James spent much of their time, James says, and as Elizabeth writes in the book, it was also a place to find peace.

“No matter what adversary we face,” she writes, “the unconventional garden is a refuge and sanctuary where we find God, ourselves, and promise for tomorrow: ground to make the world a better place.”

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