Published: December 14th 2007December 12th 2007
yes, those are all eggplant!
it was a whirlwind summer, and we have not taken enough time to share it with you, our friends and families. I've sat down numerous times to write some of the highlights, but have struggled to complete it. It was
the end of the growing season when I first started this entry; now, everything that was growing is under snow. Why does it always seem more difficult to do this when it's just your "life" you're writing about rather than some travel adventure? We all know life is no less adventurous...
This summer was our first season at the new farm outside of Traverse City. We're renting this land (and our home) from some very generous folks that would like to see it be an active farm again - and we'd like to be actively farming! Good arrangement. We took out small trees and tilled in grass in 3 different open areas on the farm this year (~1 acre total), planting one area to vegetables, the other two to cover crops in preparation for next season. Despite drought conditions through most of the summer, we had a beautiful garden. Drip irrigation kept everything growing. We had lots of fun
farmers' market fun
Michelle expertly displays her wares at a special farmers' market during Port Oneida Days (Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore).
heirloom tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, some pretty potatoes (the last of which I just dug out of the snow on Monday
), green beans, gorgeous flowers, and a scattering of everything else. We ate REALLY well, filled up the freezer with goodies for the winter, and Michelle took extras to the Traverse City Farmers' Market, where she was also selling "the best bread in Northern Michigan" from Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery
. In addition, I had a 1/2 acre garden at our neighbors' certified organic farm where I grew zucchini, summer squash, beets, leeks, cilantro, parsley, lemon cucumbers, Hakurei turnips, and some late season kale for Oryana
, our local food co-op. Our neighbors, Pat and Nancy Curly, are in their first full season of a new business venture, Leelanau Cultured Veggies
, and I have also been helping them grow organic cabbages, beets, and carrots and process them into delicious lacto-fermented goodies - sauerkraut, kim chee, dill carrots, spiced beets. Keep an eye out for these tasty treats across Michigan: they are currently available in Traverse City and a few select locations downstate.
We also had the exceptional fortune of sharing our home with the wonderful, beautiful and talented Miss Emily
Emily models the growing table
plant-start growing table by Patagonia. Emily by Emily
Reardon this summer. Emily was a star worker at a neighboring CSA, Meadowlark Farm, paved the way for future interns on our
farm by turning a converted chicken coop into a homey living space, and brightened our lives in so many ways. Emily moved back to Lansing to be with her man and to start a kick-butt job teaching kids in Springport, MI about food and farming. We love you and miss you, Emily. Thanks for a great summer.
Oh, and by the way, we still have not settled on a farm name. Top contenders so far have been "Birch Point Farm" (we live on Birch Point Road), "Berkana Farm" (see below), or combinations therein. Emily's vote has been "Yip Yip Farm" (remember the aliens on Sesame Street? Um, it's a long story...) but we're still unsettled. We're open to suggestions, so if you have inspiration, send it along!
Great Lakes Bioneers
This year was my 4th (Michelle's 5th?) Bioneers in Traverse City. If you are unfamiliar with Bioneers
, please check it out - you probably are one! The Bioneers are a growing network of positive, solution-oriented thinkers and do-ers meeting at the crossroads of environmentalism and social
justice. There has been an annual Bioneers conference in northern California for the past 18 years, and for the past 6 years, there have also been "satellite conferences" across the country - 18 of them this year. There's probably one near you. Great Lakes Bioneers, Traverse City
is one of these "Beaming Bioneers," combining local speakers, workshops and events with big-name plenary speakers via satellite link from the conference in California. The gathering has truly become one of the highlights of my year, and this year was no exception.
Michelle and I stepped up to being a part of the planning committee this year, an amazing community of people that start in January and persist throughout the year to put on this awesome event at the end of October. I thought I'd learned a lot going
to the conference in the past, but I learned SOOooo much more by being a part of a highly functioning group that works by consensus, mutual respect, and the power of community. Thanks, GL Bioneers! We love you!
I had the triple fortune this year of being the opening local keynote at the conference - a role I was honored and super
nervous to step in to. Fortunately, I took the time I needed to prepare, and the keynote went very well. If you have a spare 20 minutes and want to hear about Re-connecting a local food culture and why we all need to get involved in reshaping the Federal Farm Bill, you can watch the keynote here
. In fact, all of the local keynotes are online at that site.
It's super exciting getting involved in an already active community. The ripples of engagement and opportunity that have come out of my keynote make all the time spent worthwhile. A college class that attended Bioneers chose as a class project to eat as local as possible for one week, and create a MySpace page
documenting their findings and experiences. I was asked to do a one-night Extended Education course through Northwest Michigan Community College on Community Supported Agriculture: what it is, what it means to be a part of one, how you do it, etc. That should be a blast! And there are so many more examples...
Other big news in our lives: we've adopted a dog from a friend. Her name is Berkana, which is an old
Norse word that means "Birch tree." She's a sweet mix breed (labrador, beagle and husky?? or
birch tree and bunnyrabbit, depending on who you ask) with a beautiful, soft white and black coat. She reminds us often of the important things in life: eat at regular times, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, take long walks in the woods, practice giving and receiving unconditional love, practice patience (this last one she teaches not necessarily by example...) She's learned to tolerate our cat, and has become a truly joyful addition to our family.
CSAbyCYCLE video project
As if that's not enough, we've also been chopping away at the 70+ hours of video footage that we shot during our bicycle tour of CSAs last summer, editing it down into tasteful nuggets of information and entertainment. Our friend and master video editor, Dustin Edwards, has been hanging with us here at the farm since early September, diligently working away at this massive project. Dustin's a fellow Earthworker
, and among many other projects, he's been holdin' down the Earthwork Archives
. For those of you that know Dustin, you'll appreciate that getting him to stay in one place for this long is an accomplishment in
Dustin in 'da House!
Dustin Edwards - video producer, editor, musician, student of suppressed physics theory, and all around good guy - has his finger on the pulse of the CSAbyCYCLE video project.
itself (we feed him well!), but you're going to be blown away by what we've been getting done. We were able to preview a 30-minute piece, called "Talkin' Bout Making Culture: Community Supported Agriculture in Michigan," at Bioneers this year. I also showed a condensed, 5-minute version during my keynote, and you can watch it online at csavideo.gatheringblogs.org
. Stay tuned at this blogsite for future updates: since October, Dustin has been working on a full feature cut (2 hours?) that will likely take the viewer to most of the CSA farms that we visited, and have a lighter, "artsier" feel. And then...who knows? DVDs, film festivals, showings around the state??
We have also accepted a role on the board of the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design (ISLAND), based in Bellaire, MI. ISLAND works to connect ecology and culture through an artists' residency program and a sincere commitment to ecological community building. These folks are good friends and are working hard towards a sustainable and joyous future, and we're excited to be a part of their plans!
Right now, we're helping the directors, Brad and Amanda Kik, spread the word about their work. If visual
all-star ISLAND board
from left to right, that's: Hilary Willson, Amanda Kik, Marty Heller, Michelle Ferrarese, Brad Kik, and Susan Fawcett.
photo by Bill Palladino
or performing art, writing, culture, ecological design, sustainable living, renewable energy, alternative building, permaculture, organic gardening or community scale economics is your thing, please check us out.
To learn more, go to www.ARTmeetsEARTH.org
. From there you can:
- access the calendar of events for 2008
- get as much detail as you want about our programs
- take a short poll to help guide programming. Tell us what kind of workshops, events and residency you would want to see!
- link to a wide network of community partners focused on art, ecology, social justice and local business
- donate money, books, tools or time
Also be sure to look for the big blue box; you can sign up for the mailing list and receive updates on new events. We're working to get the word out to as many people as possible, so take the time to sign up. ...And
moments before I was going to send this message, I heard from Brad and Amanda that the property that ISLAND has been working on...is a go! Here's how excited we all
yeah, they're our friends.
That's enough for now. Looking forward to seeing you all...soon?!
and please do have splendid holidays. always.
Marty & Michelle