- Glenn Russell
- Miranda Dalton at Stone's Throw Pizza in Richmond
In its full summer glory, the garden at Stone's Throw Pizza in Richmond overflows with potential pizza toppings: perennial herbs, hot peppers, heirloom tomatoes, loaded pear trees and rows of dinosaur kale that hang around until the snow falls.
The garden isn't large enough to produce everything Stone's Throw needs for its three locations — Richmond, the original in Fairfax and a takeout spot in Charlotte — but it makes special pizzas extra special.
As the plants wake up this spring, new garden manager Miranda Dalton is taking over for Ariana Matthews-Salzman, who has tended the garden since Stone's Throw's opened next to the park in January 2020.
Dalton, 26, started growing vegetables in a tiny prefab box four years ago in Arizona and quickly decided to rip up her home's Astroturf to make way for more beds, cover crops, a squash field and chickens.
She moved to Vermont in April 2021 to teach and is currently a fifth-grade computer science teacher. After a challenging year, she's looking forward to digging into a new career path.
"We only have a finite amount of gardening seasons in our lifetime," Dalton said. "I figured I'd double my efforts by having a part-time job where I can garden."
Dalton sat down with Seven Days for a quick chat about growing pizza toppings and what she's doing in the garden right now.
SEVEN DAYS: I don't know about you, but I'm itching to get in the garden. How are you preparing for the growing season?
MIRANDA DALTON: We're still in this dormant time where everything looks dry, ugly and dead, but really it's just waiting to bloom. It's all about patience. You don't want to clear-cut, because perennials like green onions and chives have done all their work over the winter underground.
So I'm supporting those underground workers by spreading compost and putting straw over the beds to keep things from drying out. I think the most important part about gardening is presence, right? If I just waited until our last frost date, I wouldn't know what was going on. And as I'm watching the bulbs pop up, I feel like they're gifts from the previous gardener.
SD: What's your favorite vegetable to put on pizza?
MD: Fresh arugula, right after the pizza's come out of the oven. Any type of pizza, just toss a little bit of arugula on there.
SD: Salad pizza! I love it. What other toppings are you excited to grow?
MD: Being from the Southwest, I miss the flavors of cilantro and spicy chiles. There's a large asparagus patch, so that will be on the menu this spring. And basil is really expensive and doesn't transport well, so the garden can really support the restaurants with that.
I want to focus on things that smell good, like sweet peas, rosemary and sages. If a breeze comes through as you're enjoying your pizza at a table in the garden, surrounded by flowers, you're getting a full sensory experience. I was mainly a vegetable gardener before, and that's too practical. Having beautiful flowers to complement the veggies is the balance that gardens need.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity and length.