Kentucky Farm to School Partnerships

We’ve watched the food system in Kentucky evolve and change. With 1 in 6 children in Kentucky experiencing hunger, our partnership with the farm to school program is one of the most important ways for our farm can do good. When we include programs that involve children we expand the reach of nutrition programs far and wide into a community.

Outside of food service in the lunchroom, we were able to create a partnership between the Allen County Schools Food Services Department, the CORE and Dumont Hill Park in 2016 which allowed kids in Allen County to learn more about fresh farm-grown fruits and vegetables. The summer taste tasting and mini farmers market—an educational component of the Summer Feeding Program in Allen County—-was made possible by a Food Services Grant designed to introduce students to fresh Kentucky Proud products grown at a local farm. Additionally, locally grown vegetables were made available at summer feeding sites throughout Scottsville.

“This activity was made possible by the fiscal year 2016 Farm to School Mini-Grant,” noted Mary Hobdy, former Food Services Director for Allen CountySchools.​ “We want these kids to learn more about fruits and vegetables that have been grown on a Kentucky Proud farm right here in Allen County.”

page2image51742752

Students taste a variety of peppers, zucchini, squash, tomatoes and watermleon during a tasting at Dumont Hill Park.

“The Farm to School program is a great asset for Allen County schools. Because of the program, many of our students have been afforded the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables that they may not have otherwise had. Locally grownproduce is more nutritionally dense because it is consumed more quickly following its harvest, so children get more of a nutritional benefit. Students also gain more insight as to where and how fruits and vegetables are grown. Utilizing locally grown foods is a win-win for our local schools, farmers, and community.” – Amy Meador, Dietitian (Allen County Health Department)

page3image51753568

An example of vegetable tastings provided in the classroom and during summer feeding program.

page4image35490880

An example of the educational sheets sent home with students after a tasting in the classroom.

page5image51806832

In the classroom, we provide taste testing of various fruits and vegetables throughout the year. We specifically offer unique vegetables that the students may have never tasted before. Our focus is on those that can be grown during fall, winter and spring months while school is in session. Students sample brussel sprouts, kale, swiss chard, turnips and radish.

In order to make the sampling fun and exciting, we offer a variety of educational and engaging activities depending on the needs of each school and classroom. Farmer Nathan will visit morning meeting and talk about where the food is grown, a video might be shown highlighting the vegetables that are being sampled and whole vegetables are passed around so kids can see and feel what they look like. Every child receives a handout that offers nutritional information and a story about our farm. This allows them to go home and engage their parents about the experience.

Students are also surveyed as to whether or not they “tried it”, “liked it” or would “try it again”. This is allowing all of our community partners to work towards providing better food access with these nutritional vegetables throughout the year. The students can also provide us feedback about their tasting experience.

“Kids can branch out and eat new foods. Some of the vegetables are good, and some aren’t.” – Sarah (Student Allen County Scottsville Schools)

We also invite Freshman students to come out to the farm. They are able to tour the farm, learn how their food is grown and we hope some of them will consider full-time farming as an occupation. In order to make sure that the experience really hits home we offer a mini farmers market set up where students can select a variety of vegetables to take home with them. We also offer a sampling of quick and easy recipes they can make with those vegetables. The students and teachers always look forward to these farm field days.

page7image51781968

Freshman students “shop” the mini farmers market for greens and root crops. This enables the students to take vegetables home with them after tasting the vegetables during their farm tour.

page8image51803760

Freshman students learn about rotating seeded crops in the field and high tunnels during fall and winter months.

“One of the most important pieces of the integrated farm to school program we are building here in Allen County is getting students out on the farm. Not only do they get to see where food is grown, but they also get to taste them. The high school students that visit the farm in spring and fall also learn some valuable insights into year-round farming. We share information about the farm as a careeropportunity rather than just nutrition.” – Carolyn Richey (Nursing Supervisor Allen County Health Department)

“From an educator’s perspective, the “Farm to School” program is an enhancement of the nutritional program I use with my freshman health classes. The students tell me after the trip what vegetables they liked/disliked from the samples. The “Farm to School” program is an excellent collaboration for students to realize where food comes from. Often our society as a whole, more so now than even a decade ago, has a disconnect from where food comes from. This program is an excellent visualization for such. The “Farm to School” program for our students at Allen County-Scottsville High School is a great addition to our nutritional program.” – Billy Joe Miller (PE/Health Teacher)

The Road to Frankfort (Jeanie Smith for Kentucky)

There’s this triad of womanhood I’ve been digging into for nearly a decade.  Becoming a mother helped me become more aware of my compassion for those who are without basic needs.  I was reminded of moments of my childhood when I was hungry.  It wasn’t my own hunger in adulthood, but the sweet cherub face of my firstborn son that made me fall head over heart for anyone who might have to tell their own child that there isn’t enough to eat that day.  I was hooked on the kindness of compassion.

It was late as Nathan and I made the decision to give up everything we had built for ourselves to go all in on the dream of full time farming that my motherhood and heart for justice came full circle.  It was an overwhelming time made easier by the people who showed up in support and encouragement for those of us without power, without family names or prestige.

Jeanie Smith is one of those people.  

She showed up at meetings, babies in tow, laid out on blankets on the floor next to the executive business tables and power points and people in authority.  Jeanie showed up and listened.  I was the mama and the farmer in the room.  She had no reason to look to me for kmowledge and wisdom except that she believed that if food and farming were concerned why not go to the mamas and farmers for answers.

Not only did Jeanie show up to meetings and listen, but she followed up with action.  She fed the hungry, the homeless.  She visited the farm and asked how she could help.

I became a farmer.

Then, Jeanie looked around and asked herself what she could do and realized that teaching was her calling.  We’ve all seen her commitment to the education system and teachers and been inspired, but I’ve been sitting on the sidelines moved by her courage and commitment.

A food system meeting, 2013.

As a “lay” person, mama and farmer, I can tell you that Jeanie is hear to listen to us.  She cares about hunger.  She cares about opportunity like my dear friend Amanda who wanted to provide for herself with her handmade tamales years ago.  She is inspired by the hard work farmers put in year after year.  She cares about the food system and the health of our communities.  She wants opportunities for women and children like good birth options, healthy food, education, and art.

Jeanie supporting me in the Farm Food Planner, 2017.

Time and time again Jeanie Smith has shown up in support of the creativity and passion in my work as a mama and farmer.  That’s what I’m doing in return for her.  Jeanie is a mama and teacher.  She’s choosing politics as a creative way to take her love for our community to the next level of maturity.  Let’s circle around her, friends.  She needs us and we need her.

I’ll honest that I feel a bit self conscious with this ask, but it just makes me realize how bold and courageous my friend Jeanie is in her work.  We need to empower women in this way.

Here are several other ways you can support:
Visit the Facebook page, RSVP and invite your friends:
Make a donation before or during the event:
Let Jeanie know if you are available for canvassing or volunteering for her campaign!
Many thanks for supporting food, art, children and social justice for our community.
Michelle

2018 Farm School Announcement

Our summer Farm School is sold out, but we are now accepting scholarship applications for students between 6-12 years of age.  Four scholarships available.  $100 value.

Simply mail us a letter (or drawing) by June 20th telling us why you want to attend Farm School.

Mail to:  395 Hickory Lane Scottsville, KY 42164

———————————————-

We are regularly being asked two questions.  How can folks help us with our farm to school, farm tours, summer feeding programs, vegetable tastings, and other outreach efforts within Bowling Green and Allen County?  AND, Is there an opportunity for families to send their kids to the farm for a day to get a taste of real food and hard work?  We have been sitting on those two questions for a while and think we have a pretty good solution.  Families who can afford to send their kids to a day of learning on the farm will be able to help us financially support the other on farm, in the classroom, tastings and educational programming we offer. It’s this sort of creative cooperative economics that communities thrive on and we are excited about moving our farm forward in this way.
So, without further ado…

2018 Farm School
Tuesday, July 31st

SCHEDULE

7:30 am Student Check-In
Morning Meeting & Yoga

*Lesson:  gratitude for today
Hearty Farm Breakfast Served
*Lesson:  daily meal planning
Feed Animals
*Lesson: raising hogs, cattle, chickens, and sheep
Fruit + Vegetable Harvest
*Lesson:  planting, care, and harvest
Picnic + Free Play
Lesson:  basic cooking skills, serving others, cleanup
Nature Trail Walk
Lesson:  wildflower identification, searching for historic treasures
Community Art Project
Lesson: a history lesson, creative play, storytelling
Farm Dinner
Lesson:  basic cooking skills, serving others, cleanup
Evening Meeting & Chores
Lesson:  working as a team
7:00 pm Student Pick-up

COST:  $100 per student*
Includes all meals, supplies, a basket of farm food from the farm store,
art activities and the Farm School Activity Workbook
Ages 6-9 SOLD OUT
Ages 10-12 SOLD OUT

Please email us if you have further questions or would like to register a student.  Available to the first 20 students who contact us and make payment.
$15 discount for siblings

*all proceeds benefit community outreach efforts of Need More Acres Farm
serving low-income students and seniors in South Central Kentucky.

Year Round Farming in Kentucky

We had the opportunity to present as a family at the Kentucky Fruit & Vegetable conference this week.  We always enjoy meeting other farmers from across the state and hearing your stories.  We learn so much from you.  We also appreciate the opportunity to share stories from our farm.  Our session titled, Year Round Farming, included information about production, holistic farm planning, and marketing.  We’d like to share the handouts and presentation here for those who would benefit from it.  If you have any questions please let us know!  You can EMAIL us or send a text to 270-799-5563.

Download:  Holistic Farm Planning-2

Dowloand:  Holistic Farm Planning Example 

Dowloand:  NMA Infographic

Download:  Marketing Your Farm Business

Download:  Year Round Farming (Kentucky Fruit & Vegetable Conference)

Meal Planning for the Year of Healing

January 1 marks a year of healing for our family. While we aren’t exactly sure what that means throughout the year and for each family member we are doing lots of meal planning and goal setting to prepare. Our inspiration comes from the GAPS protocol, Gut Thrive, Whole 30, Paleo, Wellness Mama, old-time wisdom and almost a decade of personal experience. Mostly, we are inspired by food that can be grown right here in Kentucky. Want a glimpse of what that looks like?

Here’s our starting point. This is where healing begins for us. Dark circles under eyes, bloating, mental fog, cravings, anxiety, irritability, fatigue all disappear when we eat well and often. The NMA Farm Food Planner was designed to walk folks through the seasons with a focus on what’s grown close to home and accountability with what’s being eaten at every meal. Follow along, share, and sign up for {Notes from the Farm} for more details.

January Meal Goals:
Lemon water every morning
Broth at every meal
Herbal tea with honey (between meals)
2-3 servings Green juice or Cooked Vegetables daily
3 servings beef, pork, chicken, fish or eggs
1-2 servings root vegetables, winter squash, berries, green apples, citrus daily
Healthy fats at each meal

Daily Meal Example:
Before Breakfast-lemon water
Breakfast-Broth, Bacon, Citrus
Herbal tea with honey, water
Lunch-Chicken Zoodle Soup
Herbal tea with honey, water
Dinner-Broth, roast with root crops & buttered broccoli
Chamomile tea before bed

You will notice there are a few food groups missing, but we choose to focus on what we can eat rather than what we are eliminating. It keeps us focused on options and achieving goals.  What we love most about eating this way is that it posts back to the food we grow here in Kentucky.  Proteins like beef, pork, chicken, dairy & eggs.  Tons of nutritious veggies like Swiss chard, collards, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, Brussel sprouts and a few starches like sweet potatoes, carrots, and turnips.  In fact, that’s how I plan most of our meals.  Select a protein adding at least one vegetable to each meal and occasionally a starch.  It keeps things simple and helps us keep sugar cravings down and energy up.  We hope you will continue following along with us as we put the NMA Farm Food Planner to good use and focus on healing in the coming year.

Time is such a gift

Time is money (not to be wasted), it’s true, but it’s also an opportunity to grab hold of and build the life you really want to live.

Every year, this time of year, Nathan and I do some holistic life planning. For the last six years, that’s included huge infrastructure and business model management for both Community Farmers Market and our farm. This year, as things seemed settled a bit we’ve been able to really dig into other areas of our lives. When we first sat down with the list there was very little I felt like I could cut out. We live a fairly simple, minimalistic life (for a full-time farming family of seven).  To my surprise, Nathan suggested that he take on social media for the year, he’d enjoy it even.  Just like that, it was settled, I’d take a year-long break from social media.  And then it sunk in, I’d take a year-long break from social media.  Was I crazy?

How would that work?  Would everyone forget me?  Have I joined the ranks of all the annoying, “I’m leaving social media” hoops & hollars?

And then…I began asking myself how in the world would I spend my time?

TIME.  It’s such a gift really.  Worthy of our careful thought and reflection.

In the moment time doesn’t seem so critical.  It’s easy to breeze over the most important moments in life.  The ones we will wish we could see, feel & smell in our final days.  It’s true the days are long and the years are short.  How do we make amends with that and gain at least a bit of control over our lives?  I’m determined to find out.

Photo:  Kendal Warner

It’ didn’t take me long to realize that while social media is an excellent resource it can quickly become the one resource, our only tool.  As a wife, mother, farmer, contributor to my community I’ve become interested in all the OTHER ways we might spend our time in order to check in, express ourselves, connect with one another and receive our daily news and information.  While I fully expect to be back on social media in 2019 I do plan to dive head-on into a world I’ve forgotten over the last couple years.

Regular Checking In

There’s something reassuring about a regular checking into something outside of ourselves. Social media has provided that for me for years. I check in, then go about life for a while, and then check back in. It’s consistent, always there. As I’ve spent time in contemplative prayer and after my visit to the Abbey of Gethsemani I’ve come to appreciate the flow of the bell every three hours followed by prayer. I can even see the reflection of that social media has provided me in the past. For the following year, we will be installing an automatic bell system that will ring every three hours simply reminding us to be silent, pray, offer thanks, express gratitude. There’s something exceptionally holy about pausing, allowing God to be the distraction, rather than praying only on a whim or when it feels good.

Self Expression

I’m a creative.  I am able to best process my life and work through the expression of the experience. Photographs and the written word make me feel alive.  I’ve loved the iPhone (although I’ve always borrowed Nathan’s, never owned one myself), but I’ve missed having high quality, high-resolution photos that could be used outside social media.  I am planning on using a REAL camera in 2018 and that’s made me excited in new ways.  I’ve also found that as I scroll through facebook memories I tend to repeat myself.  What I’m saying now I said last year and the four years before that.  I’m excited to see Nathan express his viewpoint from the farm, but I’m also excited about digging into my writing in different ways.  Social media feels like fast food or a snack compared to the full meal of a well-written article or blog post.  I’ll be sending a monthly {Note from the Farm} with carefully crafted words that I hope others find uplifting and encouraging.

Connecting

As a mother of four kids under the age of six social media provided a platform for me that couldn’t be matched.  Everyone I knew was joining facebook first, Instagram second.  It was the best way to stay connected to close family and friends while connecting with NEW like-minded folks.  People would sit down at a computer and write out well thought out posts, editing as necessary for content, voice, unnecessary strife.  Over time as folks went to phone and iPad for interaction expression and editing were lost.  Aggression increased.  It affected my ability to serve mothers as well as I would have liked and it’s made the current political environment tenser.  Connecting to one another seems more disjointed in a space once fluid and easy going.

Marketing Our Farm

As Nathan and I made the leap to full-time farming we depended on social media to get the word out and connect with our consumers.  We plan to continue that as Nathan takes over the Need More Acres social media page, but now more than ever I believe that small-scale businesses need to be looking at other ways to make real connections.  Always one to accept a challenge I’m looking forward to it.  Thinking about ways that I can engage my community, connect with people in real life more authentically and enter uncharted territories.  I’m hopeful, optimistic just like I was when I first stepped foot on the social media platform.  I’ll make sure to share what I learn along the way.

Daily News

What might most represent this new approach to time is how I plan to get my news.  Let me make a confession.  Nearly all my news has started on social media.  While I skim past and ignore most of it I’ve not really made an intentional effort to consume news in a better way.  In the coming year, I’m gifting our family a daily, in print newspaper.  My plan is to make good use of extra time saved up from social media and invest it in sitting down to the table with a newspaper in hand.  Reading through it with my children and engaging them in conversations about ways we can best serve one another, our community and the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spent my time before social media.  I’ve gained a lot, for certain, but there are bits and pieces of that previous life that I look forward to reconnecting with.  I’ve also got this feeling that there’s something new, right there on the horizon, calling us to add value to our time in ways we’ve lost.  I’m in such a need for a change that I’m willing to take a bet on it.

If for even a minute you think, I’ll miss her, I love her writing, I want to know more about what her life of healing feels and looks like please reach out.  Connect with me.  Text 270-799-5563.  Email michelle.lifeisgood@gmail.com.  Visit the farm.  Invite me to your event or speaking engagement.  This isn’t a loss.  It’s an invitation to something even better, I’m certain of it.  Love & light friends, love & light.

Thank you, Leslie

“Stamping words with acrylic. The final sessions on this piece are in the near future. The portrait depicts Michelle Howell of Need More Acres Farm who does amazing work for food access in the South Central Kentucky region.”  Leslie Nichols

Leslie was the first to watch me speak quietly, waver and then make the bold decision to speak up for the rights of low-income mothers. We were at a women’s studies dinner where the topic was local food. Nathan and I had been invited by our good friend Zach who was partnering with Brittany Ryan, Christian Ryan and I on establishing a successful outreach program for Community Farmers Market Bowling Green.
Local food dinners were not new, but this idea of opening up a culture that included foodies and respected farmers with an invitation to the hungry, low-income, refugees, immigrants, single mothers and seniors was. To invite them to that very table was unheard of.
The dinner started with conversations meant to define local, organic and the ever favorable 100-mile dinner. In a sudden turn (about the time dessert was served) my fierce friend Brittany mentioned low-income breastfeeding mothers participating in the WIC program who had expressed interest in her recent research project to purchase local food. Tension grew.
Low-income single mothers and married with multiple children women were characterized. The debate continued on whether breastfeeding was reasonable for working women. It was clear that we struck a nerve. Did those who were hungry, struggling, uneducated or in general not invited to the table welcome to the local food system.
At no more than a whisper, and only to those at my table, I spoke to the people that I knew by name. The farmers, the mothers, the refugees, our black sisters, the college students, and community leaders. There were stories here in our community that represented much more than the woman choosing not to work or the Duggars.
Leslie Nichols encouraged me with kindness to speak, and I did. My voice was shaking, but I persisted. I talked about the rights of birthing women and how that effects breastfeeding which effects the health of our future. I choked down tears to tell my story as a young girl and now as a mother. I mentioned friends who traveled here from other countries with their husbands who were working the land that produces our food.
I’ll forever be thankful for those who encouraged me in those early days to find my voice. I hope that as Leslie puts my words to this image, she recognizes how meaningful her response to my fear was on that night.
Before food access became favorable, before we knew the rights of the marginalized were so dire, before we knew we’d be talking about building walls and cutting food security there were lots of women like me being encouraged to share stories, build momentum, stretch out the table and invite more people to sit down and eat their share.

Nourishing Farm Food {GAPS Approved}

I’ve been writing about our experience with Nourishing Farm Food for years now. Many of you may already know that we followed the GAPS protocol for about two years as we healed our daughter Lilah from several Food and environmental sensitivities. Through the years we’ve seen significant improvements to our health eating this way.

Interestingly, as I read and study the way folks have eaten around here for hundreds of years I realize that this is simply good old-fashioned country common sense. Healthy fats, protein, vegetables, berries, and fermented dairy would have been commonplace. Hand selects foods for how they heal and nurture the body. Remember how your grandmother suggested a big bowl of chicken soup when you were sick? Or the mention of a swig of buttermilk to settle the stomach? And kraut was a staple during winter months-making the most and extending the life of those fall vegetables.

People learned to eat this way out of necessity, but we are learning that our health depends on us being resourceful mainly because of all the foods we now have available to us all year.

Thankfully, these are the foods that can be grown, year round, right here on our Kentucky farm. With a little ingenuity, elbow grease and time cooking foods that give your body life can become commonplace.

Last night a group of men and women gathered around my kitchen counter to talk, cook and taste what I’d call the “staples” of Nourishing Farm Food. All of these are approved by the GAPS protocol, but it is by no means an exhaustive list.

 

img_1217

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is simply my recollection of the foods and the ways of preparing them as I’ve gathered insight through the years. This way of cooking has become second hand to me. Lucky for you there are so many resources available today. My favorite is The Heal Your Gut Cookbook with beautiful photos and recipes that will make you forget you are on a “special” healing protocol at all. The lovely ladies over at Honest Body have a 30-day prep that I highly recommend. My friend over at  Families Who Cook has a fantastic Instagram page with daily stories that will inspire you to get outside and in the kitchen.  This movement towards gut health wouldn’t be possible without the inspirational Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride author of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome:  Natural treatment for autism, dyspraxia, ADD, Dyslexia, ADHD, Depression, Schizophrenia and I’ll always be thankful for my doctors at Cool Springs Family Medicine who believed in my family would put in the healing work through food and lifestyle.

Lemon & Lime Water

img_1224

Ready in 1 minute
Drink every morning and between meals

Ingredients
Filtered water
Lemon or Lime
Tips
One of the most important things we can do for our health is to drink plenty of water. Without any other change, you will see significant benefits to drinking more water. Drinking watermelon or room temperature water first thing in the morning kick starts your digestion and is great for the kidneys.

 

Beet Kvass

img_1241

Ready in 24 hours

Ingredients
Beets, quartered
Salt
Filtered water
Tips
You can peel your beets, but to be honest, I just quarter them and leave the peel on. Locally grown, fresh beets work best and produce a stronger flavored Kvaas. Salt to taste, cover with filtered water and place in a cool, dry place for 24 hours. It may take a little longer to produce the flavor you want. Once it’s bubbly and active, it’s ready. Store in the fridge. I drink about 4 oz. A day to see improvements to my kidney function.

 

Fermented Vegetables

img_1251

Ready in 7 days

Ingredients
Vegetables of choice
Seasoning, Herbs
Real salt
Filtered water
“Starter” for more active ferments
Tips
The most difficult thing about ferments is the time you have to wait before you enjoy, but I find the anticipation increases my satisfaction! There are so many ways to ferment vegetables, and you do just figure it all out as you go, but my favorite method is one I read in a very old world “peasant” cookbook I skimmed through in an antique store years ago.
Chop vegetables to desired consistency, season with herbs, salt, pepper to taste, cover with filtered water and place in a cool, dry place for about seven days. Check in on it from time to time, taste. The more you eat fermented veggies, the longer you might allow them to ferment.
Leave your ferment uncovered so it can breathe. Cover with cheesecloth or a paper towel if fruit flies are an issue. Skim mold if it occurs.
Speaking of mold. Remember when our food use to mold? Butter, cheese, bread? We’d just cut the “bad part” off and eat the rest. Our food was meant to do that! Keeping without any sign of being alive means that it’s no longer food.

 

Broth

img_0907

Ready in 12-24 hours

Ingredients
Whole chicken, beef, fish (bones can be used but include meat during healing process)
Onion
Salt
Vegetables, as desired
Filtered water
Tips
Broth becomes the base of nearly every meal in the Farm Food kitchen. Like ferments, you learn your preferences as you go. Place meat, seasoning and filtered water in a pot. Simmer for at least 12 hours. I prefer a little less water and 24 hours for a drinking broth. Some use more water and heat longer. High-quality protein is the secret to a good broth. We use it for drinking and as the base for soups, stews and other dishes. In the first days and stages of healing your gut, you will want to drink as much as possible as well as cooking all of your veggies and protein in the broth. This is what predigests your food and allows your digestive tract to heal.

 

Caramelized Onions

img_1283

Ready in 30 minutes
Ingredients
Onions
Coconut oil, ghee or butter
Tips
A farmwife once told me that the most important thing you can do to start your day is to make a big skillet of carmelized onions. It’s held true for me. Once these are made you are another step closer to a tasty meal. Add to the broth for a delicious, simple soup. We also use these to flavor eggs, stews, veggies, anything! Onions and healthy fats are very nourishing and help heal the gut.

Meatballs

img_1288

Ready in 20 minutes

Ingredients
Ground Beef or Sausage
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Tips
These simple meatballs make the perfect meal or snack. I’ll add them to soup or eat on their own topped with caramelised onion, and after the healing process has begun, sour cream or yogurt. These are one of my kid’s favorites!

Roast & Root Vegetables

img_1304

Ready in 4-6 hours

Ingredients
Beef or Pork Roast
Onion
Broth
Salt & pepper, to taste
Carrots or other root crops (such as turnip, beets, parsnip)
Tips
This is one of the most satisfying meals and has become a staple in our family. Most often, we make this with a beef roast, onion, and carrots. It’s the perfect “on the go” food for those who need to pack and carry their meals.

Chicken & Vegetable Soup

img_1263

Ready in 30 minutes

Ingredients
Broth
Shredded Chicken (from chicken used to make broth)
Veggies of choice (such as squash, zucchini, carrot, onion, butternut squash)
Salt & pepper, to taste
Tips
This soup is super easy. I start by boiling the veggies in a small amount of broth. Once they are cooked tender, I’ll add more broth and the shredded chicken. Season to taste. This freezes well for quick meals and on the go.

Veggie & Broth Smoothie (Soup)

img_1300

Ready in 20 minutes

Ingredients
Broth
Veggies of choice (carrots, butternut squash, tomato, onion)

Tips
This has become a daily go to for me. I like to call it my veggie & broth “smoothie.” It’s delicious warm or cold. I include more broth so it’s thinner and “drinkable” from a mug or mason jar. This was made with broth, carrots & onion. Simply boil (if you are in a hurry) or simmer (when you have more time) veggies in broth and purée with a food processor or immersion blender.

Sautéed Apples

img_1291

Ready in 15 minutes

Ingredients
Green Apples
Coconut Oil, Ghee or Butter
Cinnamon, to taste
Salt, to taste

Tips
This becomes a daily staple around here when our entire family is working on improving our gut health. Green apples are lower in sugar, but still, give you some carbs to keep your blood sugar level. We enjoy them sautéed quickly on the stove top, but they can also be cooked longer to make applesauce.

Fermented Dairy

img_1277

Ready in 24 hours

Ingredients
Kefir = Milk + Kefir Grains
Yogurt = Milk + Starter (yogurt, whey, brine)
Sour Cream = Cream + Starter (yogurt, whey, brine)

Tips
Fermenting dairy is likely much easier than you might expect. My biggest tip is just to get started and give it a try. Reading old cooking books and journals taught me that people used what they had on hand. Kefir requires kefir grains, but when you are making yogurt and sour cream, it really is as simple as adding any “starter” to the fermentation process. I use about one tablespoon of “starter” to a half gallon of milk or quart of cream. Simply place in a cool, dry place for 24 hours and viola. Every person’s tastes, house temperature, dairy will be different. While it’s always edible, you may find that tweaking the process here and there gives you the desired consistency and flavor you want.

 

Eggs & Veggies

img_1317

Ready in 15 minutes

Ingredients

Eggs

Coconut oil, ghee or butter

Veggies of choice

Tips
Scrambled eggs and veggies are a delicious addition all year long.  We eat this for breakfast, of course, but also for any other meal of the day.

The more we’ve eaten this way. Eating less sugar, processed and fast food while increasing our healthy fats, protein and vegetables the more benefits to our health we’ve seen. We’ve lost weight, increased energy and healed health issues. It makes sense, really. We are eating the foods that have been grown here in our backyard for hundreds of years, preparing them in the same ways. Ways that are nourishing and life giving while connecting us to the very foods we grow.

 

 

 

Its been 592 days since my last blog post, but who’s counting, right?

It’s been 592 days since my last blog post, but who’s counting, right?

I needed to take a step back.  Listen more, talk less.

There was this rising happening on that day back in December 2015, and I found myself riding the wave.

Anger.  Frustration.  Empowerment.  Fear.  Solidarity.

I sensed that what the world needed is less talk and a lot more action.  So I quit blogging, calling it the Farmwives Sabbatical.

I took a year long break from facebook too.

I thought I would write a book and even had a deal in the works.  Blogging less would give me the time I needed for reflection.

In a creative turn of events (thank you, God) I got on the Sterling Noble detour.  No, having a baby had not been in my plans.

img_0982

I visited a monastery.

I turned away opportunity.

I started cooking more often.

I faced my past.

I forgave.

I realized that leaving or logging onto facebook means very little.

Time passed, and I started saying yes to opportunities that felt significant and real.

While writing a book would have been meaningful it seemed that the work I was doing mattered even more.  Writing grants for food access, building partnerships in my community, advocating for better birthing systems and breastfeeding support that include all women, cooking for people (especially my family) and working on policy change.

In fact, I learned that the less I voiced my many opinions, the more I helped the people around me.

So many times I sat down at the computer to write something big and beautiful and “sharable,” but it just never felt right.

I’m not sure what it is about today, but it seems like that rising has finally come to a turning point.

The last 592 days have been marked by growth, change, a coming into the second stage of life.  I’m confident I’ll write more about that in the future, but today I jot down a few ideas on raising a teenage son.

img_1148

As a mother to a teenage son, I’ve got a significant opportunity to influence the everyday actions of his life.
First by example, of course, but also in reflecting, communicating, teaching and bringing up the value hidden in our everyday actions and decisions. The decisions that make up our lives and impact the lives of others.
We are given the opportunity to watch and listen to what is happening in the world-and here at home. To think to ourselves that we, us, those who I spend time with would NEVER do anything like that. We cannot even begin to understand that kind of anger, that level of hate.
That’s not the lesson, though.
As the effects of that hate ripple out and afar we must have already been prepared, already working diligently, already organizing and already pushing ourselves beyond what we believe is possible.
We must have been asking ourselves, “How does my time, my behavior, the fruits of my work help those who need it most?”
We must have been giving away our power, resources, time and opportunity to others who had theirs taken generations ago.
This giving away of the excess in our lives is what we desire when we feel stressed (not more simple looking decor or more down time or more of anything that only serves ourselves). And even then as we practice this giving away it can feel like just a drop in the bucket.
But when we add our giving away to others giving away it adds up to at least something that slows down that ripple of hate.
We don’t stop there, though. This is just the beginning.
The beginning of the beginning.
We wake up every morning and ask ourselves, “Who needs to be heard? Who is already on the ground with creative ideas? Where can we show up and just listen, serve, work rather than always needing to voice our opinions?”
It’s when we sacrifice the self in such a way that WE also feel overwhelmed and powerless that the real work begins. Together.
I learned that from listening to Jesus and the many women who surrounded, supported and creatively backed his mission of LOVE.

Luke 8

 

A physical reminder of hope

There are things I experienced as a child that left so much unresolved pain deep inside that it began to express itself in physical ways.  At seven years old I began a habit every time the pain would feel so overwhelming that I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to take another breath.  I would cross my arms and dig my fingernails into my inner arm until the emotional pain felt under control.  In ways I cannot explain it created a false sense of comfort in my darkest days.

Over the past few years I’ve been able to work through many of these painful experiences.  I’ve identified them, worked through them, offered forgiveness and asked for forgiveness.  A loving husband, compassionate friends, knowledgeable counselors, and in prayer I’ve realized that this part of my story, however difficult to share-actually connects me to the people around me in meaningful ways.

During this time of sabbatical I am becoming more aware of other ways I have allowed compulsion to direct my actions rather than being physically, spiritually and emotionally prepared to live life in a way that allows me to be fully present.  I’m discovering ways I need to let go and put on a new self in order to become better equipped to love those around me.  This is the making new that seems increasingly necessary to let go of my old ways and move towards  maturity.

I’ll end my sabbatical in a few months visiting a monastery here in Kentucky-something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  As someone might prepare for a long physical race I’m practicing silence now in preparation for the prolonged silence I’ll experience there.   As a full time farming mother silence comes in hidden places that I must make more room for.  I’m learning to just be-whenever possible.  I’m also learning to see the everyday moments around me as more significant and holy.

While I will end my sabbatical in silence I started it with a very physical reminder of hope.  I am fondly calling this My Girl.  The friend I’ve finally found the courage to meet.  She’s placed at the exact spot where my physical pain would momentarily silence my emotional pain.  A reminder that life is a journey of both pain and joy. While most like a swallow she’s a combination of several inspirations I’m drawn to in nature combined with suggestions from Nathan.  Most importantly, she is in a position of openness and vulnerability that is the starting point for strength.  From there I simply let go of all control and trusted the artist to introduce us to her. 

He heals the brokenhearted : and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:  3

I’m realizing that much more than this physical reminder of hope is the carving out of space for contemplative prayer and intentional living.  It’s the letting go of the things that I once thought necessary that is creating opportunities to get to know my true self.  Not the self created by the intentions and desires of others, but my true and original self that was made for unconditional love.

“No man has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget his own ease of the service due his neighbor; nor has any man a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God.”  Augustine of Hippo