Beginning Farmers: Learning, Networking, and Connecting to Place

February 8, 2013 § 1 Comment

Check out the article (title above) that I wrote for A Growing Culture! Here’s a link, with the first couple of paragraphs below:

It’s no secret that more and more young people in the U.S. are looking to establish careers in local, organic, and small-scale farming, despite the risk, instability, hard work, and moderate income. Even many well-established career adults are abandoning their corporate jobs to start farms – and writing books about it. Most of these folks are unapologetic about their choices, choosing instead to either shout to the rooftops about why they’ve chosen a lifestyle such as this one, or to quietly go on doing what’s important to them. Yet as much as farmers enjoy their independence, getting started and continuing successfully depends upon a network of support from other farmers, researchers, landowners, and the general public.

Khaiti and Andrew French, who run Living the Dream Farm in Clayton, Wisconsin, were drawn to farming because “of loving good, real food and caring about how animals are raised in agriculture.” They are famous for their duck eggs in Minneapolis circles, and also raise turkeys, rabbits, chickens, and goats. Farmers such as the Frenches, inspired by voices such as Wendell Berry and Fred Kirschenmann, seek meaningful connection to the land, family-centric lifestyles, and practices that are in line with their carefully considered ethics.

Read more.

And . . . home, again

February 8, 2013 § 1 Comment

I’ve remained on the quiet side the past couple of months, but guess why? Because changes galore have been happening. I like to take a little while to settle in before I start talking about it.

Remember when I went to North Carolina? Well. I’ve come again, with all my belongings and my dog in tow. We mean to stay.

I’ve faced transitions enough times that I feel something of an old pro at them (I no longer let all the uncertainty and newness pile up until I can do little more than burst into tears, for example). One of the best things about putting yourself into precarious and/or unfamiliar situations is that you learn to adapt, reach out, and trust. You fear risk less, because even while it sometimes makes things quite uncomfortable and even unpleasant, on the other side of risk you might find something wonderful. And you trust that the universe (or, for me, God) will catch you. In this overly-independent society you actually learn to accept help and to cultivate gratitude. People like to help people, did you know that?

I’ve been caught again and I have fallen into what seems to be a very good place. I’m so excited to be working in the farm and gardens at a year-round camp in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Here in Orange County we have many, many small sustainable farms, fantastic food co-ops, winding roads, and horses galore. Two and half hours east, we reach the ocean. Two and half hours west, the mountains. Everyone has been so kind and inviting; southern hospitality is not a myth. Tassie is thrilled to have new friends, and so am I.

We went walking with one of our new friends and her dog the other day, and since I am currently camera-less (two broken ones), here is a first shot of us in North Carolina, courtesy of Leah Maloney:


Pardon the messy hair; some days, like those where the only things on the agenda are a long walk and a lot of reading, it just seems all right to let it stay a bit wild.

So. We are going to become southerners. Hold on tight, y’all. I can’t wait to find the stories that are here.

Among other species

February 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

Here’s a passage I came across in my reading yesterday that made me pause, re-read it, and ponder for a bit:


Thoreau, and his many heirs among contemporary naturalists and radical environmentalists, assume that human culture is the problem, not the solution. So they urge us to shed our anthropocentrism and learn to live among other species as equals. This sounds like a fine, ecological idea, until you realize that the earth would be even worse off if we started behaving any more like animals than we already do. The survival strategy of most species is to extend their dominion as far and as brutally as they can, until they run up against some equally brutal natural limit that checks their progress. Isn’t this exactly what we’ve been doing?

What sets us apart from other species is culture, and what is culture but forbearance? Conscience, ethical choice, memory, discrimination: it is these very human and decidedly unecological faculties that offer the planet its last best hope. It is true that, historically, we’ve concentrated on exercising these faculties in the human rather than the natural estate, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot be exercised there. Indeed, this is the work that now needs to be done: to bring more culture to our conduct in nature, not less.

– Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education




January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dear readers,

At the risk of continuing shameless self-promotion, I’m wondering if any of you have favorite independent bookstores you’d like to tell me about?

I’m trying to get my act together in terms of marketing my book, since I’ve been fairly lackadaisical about it up till now – admittedly, because it makes me feel silly to promote myself. But you know? It’s not about me. It’s about the story, which in many ways isn’t even solely mine. Because the story is the product of so many life experiences that the world generously offered me, so many people I came into contact with, the space to daydream throughout my childhood, and the inspiration and creative nudges of so many other writers and their books.

There are lots more readers our there that I’d like to have access to this story. So I need to get over myself and figure out how to get this book in their hands. Girls who love horses have just gotta read this story.

So. As I explore more venues, what bookstores would you like me to know about? Could you provide me with the name and either the web address or street address so I can send them a reader’s copy? I’d be grateful!

I’m working on an author website right now – another thing I’ve shyly hung back from. I’ve got quite a bit of fine-tuning to do, and I need some fancy pictures of myself (and maybe some horses?), but keep checking back to get the link in a few weeks.

Other than that – what have you been reading lately? I’ve been alternating between Michael Pollan’s Second Nature and Holley Bishop’s Robbing the Bees and Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. It is fun to sit on the couch with three open books and to keep picking them up in intervals.

Travel on

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment


Friends! Many things have been happening. One of them I am so excited to tell you about:

For the past year or so, my sister (Elena), Mom (Barb), and I have been talking about starting a travel club. We’re finally in a place where we’re ready to make it happen! What this means is that we’ll be organizing group trips and going to fantastic places all around the globe.

Our first destination? Greece, September 2013! We’re looking at a route that will be taking us through the isles as well as onto the mainland, with emphasis on the travels of the Apostle Paul.

So, I’d like to personally invite all of you to join our club! There’s no cost to become a member – it simply means that you’ll be added to our member list to get the most up-to-date and thorough information about the trips. There’s not any kind of obligation, and you can ask to leave the member list at any time. If you love to travel and want to make new friends this might just be for you!

Here’s a link to our website (which yours truly has been slaving over, so please admire its prettiness!): Seven Seas Society Travel Club.

Wouldn’t it be great to meet one another en route to a European extravaganza?

Happy adventures to all of us – at home, on the road, and over the ocean.

Not resolutions, so much as habits to cultivate

January 8, 2013 § 2 Comments

These things have been impressing themselves on me in the last few weeks, as I look towards yet another new beginning along with this new year. We are ever in the process of shaping the lives we have been given, and who we might be within them, aren’t we? All of us look for signposts towards what is right, so I wanted to write down some of mine to keep them in front of me. Saying them is not the same as doing them, of course, and I can only try when I remember. Forgive me, friends, while I stumble on through humanity!

be quiet(er).
speak less impulsively; watch your words; listen more closely.

be gracious.
assume the best; forgive readily; be slow to anger. be gentle with self.

be generous.
with time even more than money. with food. with helping hands.

be kind.
to everyone, as often as possible, beyond what is expected.

be frugal.
handmade things are good! avoid senseless expense. save.

be sincere.
act with intention; follow through; hold true to your convictions.

love bravely.
quell bitterness; embrace others; accept the reality of loss, yet open your heart.

Advent 4, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and a New Year!

December 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Oh my goodness, is anyone else in a holiday daze? (But it is good, isn’t it? Family and candy canes and sparkling snow and games and caramel corn and truffles and favorite old movies and the re-telling of stories.)

I’m sorry that Christmas came up without me appropriately finishing my little spiritual reveries, but here’s a quick catch-up for those of you who care:

The fourth candle of advent is the candle of peace. The Prince of Peace comes that we might know what peace truly is, that our hearts might rest in the assurance of salvation, and that we might go on to extend peace outward. Bless and be blessed.

Romans 5: 1-2a: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

The Christ Candle is in the center of the wreath, and is lit on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day. This is what we have all been waiting for – the light of the world come down.

John 1: 1-14

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life,and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And so 2012 wraps up tonight. It has in many ways been a blur, and while much has been learned this has been very much a year of not quite feeling like myself, or at least not the version of myself that I would like to be. And yet perhaps that allows for growth, or the ability to identify areas of needed growth, and noticing the things that matter and the things that are less important, and where compromise is necessary . . . and recognizing how in the midst of what seems it will be nearly constant change in one way or another, there is the need for an anchor. And what will that anchor be? We choose many things to be anchors for ourselves, the things that give us some sense of stability, and some are more solid and sure than others. This year I seem to have been floundering a bit, grasping at ropes attached to all sorts of random anchors and dropping all kinds of compasses from my pockets. But my true anchor is, of course, Christ. And my compass must be His Word. And my traveling companions? Well, Him, of course, the magical and comforting presence of His Holy Spirit. And I hope many of you, my friends, His church. And yes, let there be an assortment of the rest of the world’s characters, that we might bravely search and experience and celebrate this colorful gift of a place, this rollicking gift of life, together.

Here comes 2013. 


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