Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Pondering the Meaning of Home

Home. It’s something I take for granted and usually don’t spend much time thinking about in an abstract way. I love our home. I love making our home feel comfortable and welcoming. I love cooking, cleaning, gardening and organizing (okay, maybe not cleaning so much). But what does “home” mean to me?  I hadn’t given it much thought until I recently spent a delightful morning with Harriet Fasenfest in her home. As we drank coffee, walked around her garden and waited for the impromptu coffee cake come out of the oven (maple, blueberry and quinoa – YUM), we discussed the concept of home and what it really means to make a home.

IMG_1815For those of you not familiar with Harriet, she is the author of the book The Householder’s Guide to the Universe and a self-described Farm Wife. Harriet has spent a lot of time thinking about home and what it means to be a home maker. She is working on her next book which examines the history and modern implications of the home economy. Listening to her talk about the history of land ownership, the relationship between the global market economy and the home economy, and the devaluing of the culture of home, I began to have a new appreciation for what a “home” really means.

Harriet has spent the last few years working closely with small farmers in the area. She has traded her householding skills for farm fresh fruits and vegetables. She has learned to put up a pantry that provides delicious, nourishing food for the year. She has analyzed, tweaked and codified her methods for making a home and is now ready to share the wealth of information she has put together and talk to others about what it takes to make a home economy work.

For the next six weeks, Harriet will be hosting a working group that will come together once a month to read, discuss, analyze and philosophize on the topic of the New Home Economy. The groups will be held at the shop and at Harriet’s home. If you’re interested, check out the class page and register for the AUTHOR’S SERIES | Returning Home: The Practice, Principles and Art of the New Home Economy. I look forward to meeting fellow householders and sharing experiences, methods and new ideas. The first class is this Sunday. I hope to see you there!

New Class Series by Harriet Fasenfest

We are so honored and excited to announce a new series of classes by Harriet Fasenfest. The author of Householder’s Guide to the Universe and the DVD Preserving With Friends is offering these classes in conjunction with the authorship of her new book Remembering, Re-Imagining and Returning Home. For more information on this series and to register, check out our class page. Also, read her new blog post here.

Remembering, Re-Imagining and Returning Home

“To make public protests against an evil, and yet live dependent
on and in support of a way of life that is the source of the evil, is
an obvious contradiction and a dangerous one. If one disagrees
with the nomadism and violence of our society, then one is under
an obligation to take up some permanent dwelling place and
cultivate the possibility of peace and harmlessness in it. If one
deplores the destructiveness and wastefulness of the economy,
then one is under an obligation to live as far out on the margin
of the economy as one is able: to be as economically independent
of exploitative industries, to learn to need less, to waste less, to
make things last, to give up meaningless luxuries, to understand and resist the language of salesmen and public relations experts, to see through attractive packages, to refuse to purchase fashion or glamour or prestige. If one feels endangered by meaninglessness, then one is under an obligation to refuse meaningless pleasures and to resist meaningless work, and to give up the moral comfort and the excuses of the mentality of specialization.”
~ Wendell Berry “The Long Legged House: Essays”

Remembering, Re-imagining  and Returning Home

Welcome home or to the start of your return home.  Hopefully you will join me for the full trek because I believe our homes, and the home economies that support them, will offer us comfort in the years ahead. I believe we are facing hard times and that finding a softer, kinder, more resilient way of confronting them will be necessary if we are to hold onto our hears. The negative results of our economic policies are picking up speed and we are seeing the breakdown all around us. Which is why creating homes and lives that are somewhat buffeted from the storm will be important to our emotional, spiritual and economic resiliency.  At least that’s how I see it; otherwise, I would not have bothered to write this book.  Others seem more willing to believe that a “local” economy will keep the reach and demands of the global economy at bay. Some imagine what is needed are a few new rules, taxes and incentives and that using the market place to put a price on carbon or to invest in alternative energy will create new jobs and a healthier environment. Some say it is Wall Street, moneyed interests in politics and crony capitalism that is the problem while others posit it is capitalism itself that has muddied the waters of a civil society and suggest a wholesale systems change. Though I applaud and agree with many of these efforts, my own tact is to focus on how creating a home economy can offer solutions that are not only strategic and life affirming but within reach of our own hands and hearts.

If I look toward the personal home economy as a means for a better life its because  the
systems, requirements and consequences of today’s global economy (and all markets
are global now despite what you think) are simply too large and unwieldy to hem in.
They are too powerful or too powerfully backed by those who have too long ignored the
issues that face so many of us.  We are up against a cost of living that is making life
ever more difficult.  Just as it is confronting our urban lives it is challenging our farmers
who, like us, are facing the challenges of ever increasing land costs and ever
decreasing wages.  That I write and live by the principles of “householding” and now
home economics is because faith would be hard to summon otherwise.

Having said that however, creating a home economy alone will not turn the world right.
It is an adolescent yearning to think anyone can make the world safe from the swings
and arrows of nature or human folly or that “Home” will ever give us the full shelter from
the storm we imagine. So where A Householder’s Guide to the Universe was a love
song and early imagining of a life restored to wonder, Remembering, Re-imaging and
Returning Home takes a more sober look.  It takes a look at place making in a world of
the placeless since few of us live where we were born.  Most of us are transplants,
immigrants and transients following opportunity, careers or hope.  This transience has
not only impacted our sense of place but our economic, emotional and spiritual lives. All
these things must be considered if we are to Remember, Re-imagine and Return home
in an honest and respectful way.

On the matter of spirituality however, I’ll admit a certain flush in discovering that
Returning Home, (a title I picked out of my secular mind), is often referred to within a
spiritual context.  One returns home to a truer sense of self or connection to the source.
One returns home to the sacred values that sustains life. That the phrase “returning
home” could be interpreted in a spiritual context could have been a serendipitous
discovery but in the end I think I was given insight into what a return home might mean
or require.  Though nothing is more subjective then our faith systems, I will say that the
requirements of this life — frugality for one – could not so easily be endured were it not
for a certain spiritual foundation.  At least that has been my experience.

In the end, to write of a return home was to unwind a million narratives.  Even now I fall
hopelessly short of understanding all that will challenge us.  But what I do know is that
our relationship to home is ancient and primal.  What I know is that it is woven within the
history of land and labor — by whom and for whom.  It is informed by gender, race,
caste, class, poverty and privilege.  It is marked by the workings of the marketplace as
trade brought empire and empire brought conquest and displacement.  It is marked by
science, industry and technology.  It has been defined by religious and territorial
imperatives and/or arrogance.  But most significantly, or at least not to be
underestimated, it has been marked by human nature — our virtues and vices; greed vs.
gratitude, hubris vs. humility, love, loyalty and commitment to people and place versus
things that lure us beyond.  We are inheritors of a patch-quilt legacy that has informed
not only the world without but the world within.

It is through these varying and mystifying lenses that I write.  From the practical to the
spiritual, from the historical to the personal: from charts, essays and reflections to the
tools for self reflection, Returning Home hopes to elevate not only our understanding of
home economics but its capacity to restore our lives and the life of the planet and the
people who live on it.  That, at least, is my very lofty goal.

Harvest Fair Thank You

I would like to extend a heart-felt “thank you” everyone who made our first annual Harvest Fair such a success…

to Beth, who heard ‘we should do something fun to celebrate the end of the season’ and planned a day of music, games, crafts, storytelling, cider pressing and competitions. Weeks of planning and organizing were well worth it, and just remember – it’ll be easier next year.

to the home canners, fermenters and crafters who were willing to share their hard work and bounty for our competition. I can’t tell you what a joy it was to see those beautiful jars of jams, jellies, kraut, relish, pickles, chutneys, kombucha, soda, lotions, and bath salts lining our table and knowing that they were made right here in our community, by our neighbors, who live in the city but hold tight to the tradition of growing, preserving, and making by hand.

to Harriet, Gabe, Isla, Barbara and Saundra who ogled, sniffed, prodded, and tasted every entry in our homecrafting competition. After seeing and tasting the entries myself, I acknowledge that you had the best, and toughest, job of all.

to Zach and Jamie who managed, in just over three hours, to press 150 pounds of apples into the most delicious cider while laughing, chatting and explaining the workings of the cider press. Thank you both for being so generous with your time.

to Jen, Jessie, Emily and the rest of the staff who gave their time, talent, humor and patience in helping bring this event together.

to the musicians whose gift of music kept us all singing, dancing, and tapping our toes. You were wonderful and deserve to be on the charts.

to Ashley and Ethan of Feastworks who shared their handcrafted sausages and pretended not to notice that I came back three times for more samples. We’re so glad you’re in the neighborhood and that your delicious bacon and charcuterie are only steps away from our door.

and finally, to everyone in the community who came out to celebrate and share one of the last beautiful days of summer with us. Without you, we wouldn’t have a reason to celebrate.

And now for the winners of the competition:

Jams, Jellies and Preserves:

1st – Wendy Posson
2nd – Sarah West
3rd – Paschal Black
4th – Chris Chulos

Pickles, Chutneys and Sauces:

1st – Marianne Colgrove
2nd – Sarah West
3rd – Pam Henderson
4th – Chris Chulos

Fermented Vegetables:

1st – Sarah West
2nd – Justin Moran
3rd – Scott Bates
4th – Alan York

Fermented Vinegars & Vegetables:

1st – Wendy Evans
2nd – Saundra Kamman
3rd – Corrie Heath
4th – Corrie Heath

Personal Products:

1st – Mary Benson
2nd – Gretel Page
3rd – Liz Fouther-Branch
4th – Corrie Heath

Canned Goods Presentation:

1st – Juanita and friends
2nd – Wendy Evans
3rd – Gretel Page

Kids Crafts:

1st Nina Lyle


The Start of a Seed Exchange

It’s reassuring to know that somewhere in the arctic tundra, tucked safely in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are thousands of seeds ready to share their genetic wealth when the world needs it. I shudder to think of the numbers of native varieties of plants that have become extinct over the years; our genetic diversification becoming that much more narrow. And as important as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the National Plant Germplasm System, and other seed saving systems are, what’s most important is that we, as individuals, start taking the initiative to fight the further loss of genetic diversification.

It sounds like a daunting task, and in a way it really is.   But, when everyone works together, it can be easy and fun. It can be a Seed Exchange!  So we’re calling on all gardeners and farmers to start saving your seeds to share with others.  Here’s how it works: we provide the materials and space, and you provide the genetic diversification.

Beginning in August, we will have a table set up in the garage with various jars, envelopes, bags, labels, spoons, and markers. For those who are new to the art of seed saving, there will be a couple of guides to explain proper seed collection, cleaning, and storage. If you have an abundance of rare, heirloom, or open pollinated seeds, bring some in to share with others.  If you are looking for some seeds to plant in your own garden, come in and take what you need. It’s all free and it’s a great way to expand your garden selection and meet your neighbors. In other words, it’s a win-win.