What led me to the farming life

1. The land:

  • West Virginia, the Kanawha Valley and surrounding hills and mountains. The people there.
  • Ohio, northwest, remnants of ancient wet prairie land, dry oak savanna, and forested ravines, the city, the river, my own backyard where I began my first garden at age 9.
  • Connecticut, southern.
  • California, the San Gabriel Mountains, eastern edge, very shady Yellow Pine forest ; southwestern Mojave Desert, Mojave River watershed, the western end. My home for most of my adult life. Where my children were born.

2.  West Virginian hill country women farmers: my maternal great aunt, and her niece, my aunt. My great aunt, a single woman farmer from the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia. When I visited, I was encouraged to work alongside her on her farm. This left a deep impression on me. My aunt was a foster mother to me. I spent over a year and every summer until I graduated from high school living with her. She taught me to love the land and its inhabitants. She was a master gardener, practicing techniques for small-scale and bio-intensive household gardening.

3.  Two farms. Rainshadow Farm I and Rainshadow Farm II, my current farm. Almost 33 years working with the desert. Learning to sit with the land. Trying to understand it. This is considered marginal land, drylands, semi-arid, not for farming. Trying to understand where we intersect with the land and the other-than-human inhabitants.

4. Farmers from Switzerland who formed the backbone of my mother’s family for centuries past.

5. Farmer-friends and gardener-friends, all over the world. For sharing your wisdom and encouragement.

5.  My kids. My companions in this life. Wisdom-bringers. Deep pools of joy for my heart.

California poppies in cactus food garden at RSF.

California poppies in cactus food garden at RSF.

Snow in the desert.

Snow in the desert.

Rainshadow Farm Winter Project February 2011

Rainshadow Farm Winter Project February 2011

Mother's Day minus S.

Mother’s Day minus S.

Golden Gate 2011

Golden Gate 2011

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About rainshadowfarm

I teach anthropology, am an archaeologist, a drylands agroecologist, community educator, and a mother of eight. I currently own and operate an educational and research farm in the southern Mojave Desert, Rainshadow Farm. I'm 100% West Virginia hillbilly. Not necessarily in that order.
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