IN THE BEGINNING
In 1972 I met two guys in Harvard Square, I was 12 and they were on there way to the hog farm in Maine. The hog farm was the commune that wavy gravy Jack Kerawaic and others had formed to create a place for sustainable living with such crazy things as all natural farming, solar heating, and living in sync with nature. These men had decided that instead of opposing nature, they would use it to help them grow their crops. They would not try to force crops into submission with chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides. They had found that this type of chemical warfare was very harmful to humans and wildlife. (Go figure)
The impression these guys made on me would last a lifetime. I had grown up in a farming community out side of Boston, Massachusetts that was turning into yuppie central. (We did not have the word “yuppie” back then) The yuppies loved chemical any thing. I thought not using them made a lot more sense. When I told others about the farm in Maine, they thought it was the craziest thing they ever heard of. Most of the adults I told had said that this type of farming would never work. Chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides were invented to help them grow crops. I was certain that people had grown crops before the inception of chemicals. Did everyone forget this?
This new/old way to farm was very interesting to me so I studied every thing I could find about it. There wasn’t a lot of information available at the local library, (if there was only the internet then). However, I did find that there were people out there doing it. Once again, hanging out in Harvard square, I was told there was a whole group of people that would meet at a big concert and arts festival in up state New York in 1969. They started some farms in Vermont and California and used a method called organic farming. I read every thing I could find on it. This was it. The new way to farm without harming the earth or the plants was organic farming. At 14 years of age I could not understand why every farmer was not using this method of farming. It seamed so simple. I started to grow tomatoes and sun flowers and had a very good crop the first year. The next year I added peppers and squash and they grew well also. So why didn’t anyone else do this? Well as the years past I continued to grow my victory gardens using natural growing techniques. It worked very well and produced wonderful and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
I continued to learn all that I could about the subject. I found a local author who wrote about nature and naturalism. I went to the places where he had lived and written about in his books. I saw what he did and tried to imitate it. The man’s name was Henry David Thoreau. He was an American author, poet, naturalist, historian, and many other things. His most famous work was his book Walden. It was a reflection about simple living and natural surroundings. I lived only 10 miles from Walden Pond and was able to go there without much effort. I embraced this way of life and had an ever growing love of nature. I followed this path as a hobby until I got married.
When our first child was born and my stepdaughter was living with us we decided to move a way from the hectic lifestyle, (we lived in the suburbs), and move to the country. We both quit our jobs and started over to give our kids the chance to grow up playing in the woods, seeing cows, and loving nature. We moved to the Mohawk valley, home to some of the most naturally fertile soil in the United States. This land would be perfect for growing our crops naturally. The cows out numbered the people 2:1 in the town that we moved to. I worked several jobs, (mainly outside in the woods to be close to what I loved), and learned more about nature every day and how we were part of it, not its master. As allies with nature, we should all realize that we co-exist with her and that she has the power to change us as much as we can change her.
When my second child was born we were still growing our little victory gardens and working to expose our kids to all nature had to offer. We even bought a school bus to use as a traveling classroom on weekends and vacations. It was quite the sight to see a school bus with car seats tied into the seats that were left. We traveled all over the east coast finding nature and all it had to offer. The kids loved seeing all the new and strange things we saw. They also loved the bus with lots of room to move around and play while traveling. This went on for a few years until the kids were in school and we needed to settle down. We opened a small store in our large Victorian home selling locally made natural products and art. I studied herbal medicine and aromatherapy and started to make and sell our own line of products. We became well known for our oils and skincare products. Eventually our store expanded and we had to move it to a store front in town. We expanded our product line to include organic herbs, massage oils, hair care, and pet products. We became well known in western Massachusetts for our "HIPPIE" store. I never understood the nick name though because we weren't "hippies". (At least I didn’t think so).
I was asked to write about aromatherapy for a regional magazine and from there I did some local radio shows. This led to a job working with an international marketing company setting up aromatherapy sales programs and teaching store owners to use and sell essential oils. I did this and operated our store as well with much help from the family .While on vacation in Destin with the school bus, (yeah we kept it all these years), we found the beauty of the North West panhandle. It was mainly by accident as we were lost and looking for rt. 65. We talked about moving here when the kids finished school. The kids overheard our conversations over the next few months and said they would go with us if we wanted to go this year. My son would be a senior, my daughter a junior, and my stepdaughter was now married and living in Vermont. (Wow my kids are great). I also thought it was time to get out of the rat race we had put our selves into with the store and the marketing company. In order to do this, all we had to do was to sell the house and the store in a bad economic time. Well it happened within two months and we had to rent a house to live in so I could finish a contract that I had to teach nature classes at a summer camp.
Well we were on our way to getting back to my love for natural farming, living in the woods, and being close to nature. It didn't happen just as we had planed though and we had to start all over once again. This took time and lots of work. Thanks to my wife, my son, his wife and son, my daughter, her husband and two daughters we are all living here on the farm. We are now living the life we dreamed of oh so long ago! Come visit us and see the life we were able to carve out of our little piece of heaven.