COLLABORATIVE GROWING, FARMER MEG PASKA
I wanted to pop in quick here for an update on our listener support challenge underway. We set ourselves the goal of adding 100 new listener supporters by the end of this strange year, and I am blown away by your generosity. We’ve had 27 supporters come on board since we issued the challenge. THANK YOU – a garden does not grow over night. It grows over a season - over many seasons accumulated. As we approach our 5th birthday, closing in on 250 episodes, 635,000 downloads overall on Soundcloud – this current season is growing nicely.
I know you hear appeals all the time especially in this particularly politicized moment and I appreciate the urgency of that. I appreciate too that we all come to what we value in different ways. I spent this last weekend handwriting thank you notes to those of you who’ve supported these conversations you value. In these notes I write: "In a world and at a time when our individual impact can feel questionable, I want to express to you that your support of these civil garden conversations this year have meant the world to us. Your contributions to these conversations – coupled with your own impulse to garden have actively encouraged, engaged, expanded, and empowered gardeners around the world making a difference to their environments, economies, communities and the communal well being of us all. So from my garden to yours – thank you! Together we plant powerful changes and grow the world for the better."
If you would like to join us as a listener supporter of this impactful work – please do. Go to the top right hand corner of any page here at Cultivating Place.com and follow the links by clicking the SUPPORT button. And thank you – I am so pleased that this collaborative growing endeavor now offers you a conversation about the power of collaborative growing – from bees in the city to goats and good food in community. Enjoy!
Farmer Meg, as she is fondly known, is a homestead educator, a CSA grower a community calorie crop participant, as well as being the author of “Rooftop Beekeeper.”
Meg has been farming in NJ and NY for the past 9 years and in 2018, with her partner Neil established Biscuitwood Farm in upper Schoharie County NY on a 50 acre former dairy. They grow cut flowers, raise egg-layers on pasture, breed Red Wattle pigs, and milk dairy goats for a small-scale soap enterprise. Meg believes collaborative farming is the future and is involved with the regionally based collaborative The 607 CSA.
The 607 CSA is at work to help improve Food Justice through real collaboration: " As farmers, we produce healthy, delicious food and we know the real value of our labor. We spend our scarce free time advocating for policy that supports sustainable food systems. A sustainable food system is one that both works to recognize the value of our hard work and to provision full access to nutrient rich food. Small-scale, regenerative farming honors access to healthy food as a human right. While we work toward system change, we do what we can within our own communities, here and now.
Please join us both in short and long term struggle to challenge food apartheid."
Meg is a farmer, gardener, partner, human and now mother who believes in the power of collaborative growing.
"A backyard is first and foresmost a luxury."
Meg Paska, Farmer Meg
Caption for middle picture above: " This post is a little vision board of sorts, but comprised of past moments of our life. As we inch closer to a opening up a new chapter as parents, the motivation to transition back to farming on our land more assertively has grown. I will need to be present to take care of the small one while Neil manages his more stable career, so I will need to generate income to contribute to the household. We’ve had space here that I’ve wanted to turn into a farm store and micro farm bakery for a while now, but I haven’t been quite ready to take the plunge, mostly due to money (refrigeration, plumbing, a Rofco oven, benches and repairs/improvements are expensive. Gotta dream big!) and a bit of fear over getting in too deep again like the last time I ran a farm full time. That burnout took a while to recover from, but I feel good now and I feel like I understand this land more than I have in the past and am ready to see what it can do. So, this is my transmission out into the world: next year will be a full-time farming and parenting year. We will have our half acre sized plot stocked with veg and flowers. We will continue to raise layers and broilers and dairy goats for seasonal goats milk soaps. We are going to start a little bakery, specializing in seasonal pies and galettes, biscuits and eventually breads. Our little space will be decked out with refrigeration and displays and local people will be able to come by to get good, lovingly grown food from our farm and from friends farms too. We’re going to find the means to do all of this and make it happen for next spring. Not because we have to (we don’t), but because I want to and it’s within reach."
Since we spoke, Meg and Neil have welcomed young Graham into the fold to add even more complexity and joy to their collaborative life. I caught up with Meg by phone just before the arrival of baby and she reiterated the importance of "fighting for access to land, and allowing the abundance of this garden work we love to continue to teach us the beautiful lessons of real abundance and generosity - both of which are measures of wealth to be shared lavishly."
Join us again next week when at this well-aged moment in our season here in the Northern Hemisphere, we explore some thoughts on aging well as gardeners. Toni Gattone joins us to share her research on Adaptive Gardening in her book The Lifelong Gardener. Join us then!
Follow Farmer Meg (and Neil and Graham and all the creatures at Biscuitwood Farm) and her garden journey online farmermegs.com/biscuitwoodfarm and on Instagram: @Farmermeg
All photos courtesy of Farmer Meg. All rights reserved
Join us again next week when catch up with Urban Bee Keeper turned floral designer/flower farmer/back to the lander and now mother, Meg Paska AKA Farmer Meg. Listen in!
RELATED EPISODES INCLUDE:
THINKING OUT LOUD this week..
When I heard Meg say: To have a back yard in Brooklyn is the ultimate luxury I thought – oh my word is that true no matter where you live this is more true than ever. And every one deserves access to some scale or version of a back yard. If you have one – maybe consider how you help others gain access to one as well – from well kept and funded public parks and supported community gardens to supporting Black Sanctuary Gardens or Land access and reparations for Indigenous and black farmers, for young farmers. We all benefit from safe open access to healthy land and land based relationships.
I will list some of the links I know of in the show notes for supporting such initiative on the website this week – but I will also post this on Instagram this week and ask that if you have links you would like to share to please post them.
AND for all of you undertaking the stillness everyday challenge I put out a few weeks ago – how’s it going? Still at it? I am. And this week I incorporated a night under the stars in the garden in hopes of viewing the perseids – I’ll report back next week with the results.
Towards the very end of my conversation with Meg she articulates how when she first determined to align her livelihood with her love of cultivating bees and then the plants and the land, she found that in monetizing it, she also began to feel like she might be hoarding it and guarding it.
This is a dilemma isn’t it?
I feel this ALL the time, I will tell you. To write about it and talk about it and ask for money in support of this garden conversation work can feel like I am sullying my beloved garden.
I have to pay attention to this feeling when it comes up – I have to check in with the feeling and sometimes I have to reset course to make sure I am emphasizing in my actions and intentions the most generous and generative and shared experience of the garden and why I feel it’s important to talk more and more openly about the power of it.
I often get the most moving notes and letters from listeners and these remind me of why I do what I do – and why I encourage you all to keep doing what you’re doing. I wanted to share this note with you from a sister listener – you have no idea what notes like this mean to me and I take them as messages from the universe – just like every other seed in my garden: the listener write:
“I've been contemplating and now planning the next phase of my professional life for a couple of years. I'm on a project that ends in 2023, so am starting to feel the pressure to 'get it figured out'. My new venture is a significant departure from my current role as a research manager in behavioral child health. I was especially inspired by your interview with Naomi Sachs and it was the first time that I saw an opportunity for my varied interests in health and the natural world and my experience in research and finance to potentially come together. More recently, your comments during the interview with Colleen Southwell about finding your calling and allowing it to be the right time really resonated with me. It helped me to acknowledge that I have been doing the work and am even more committed to my vision. It was also a great reminder of the importance of finding mentors and others who will encourage you to stay true to your vision when all of your doubts and insecurities get to be too much. I know that sometimes when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and speak about these things sometimes it's hard to know if we are just speaking into the void or if they connect with anyone. I wanted to let you know that many of the people you have interviewed and your courage to share your own reflections and struggles has meant a lot to me in my own growth and I will continue to listen and appreciate these moments as I continue in my struggle for growth and change.”
Thank you all for listeners. We are doing what we are meant to be doing – growing the world we want to see.
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