MY JOURNEY HERE
There are many stories to my journey here and the story continues unfolding, for we are always moving, changing, growing and learning. I am deeply in love with that process and find great joy in learning and evolving new ways of thinking and being in the world. Here I will share the big pieces that tied my current work and passions together.
One of the very first pieces was meeting Jeff, my husband, in college. The influence of friends is tremendous and he was no exception. We were both disillusioned with Capitalism and had no desire to enter the "rat race" of corporate America and all the conventions that went along with it. He was a vegan and committed to natural foods, something very new to me at the time. I was politically aware of women's and BIPOC rights issues, but not environmental issues. Jeff changed that. Four years later we were living together and he started our first garden at his family home on Cape Cod. We were hooked! We loved gardening, cooking and preparing meals together. In 1993 we made plans and moved to San Francisco where we started our first biointensive garden in our tiny backyard in the foggy Sunset District. We found a copy of John Jeavons’ book How To Grow More Vegetables on the growbiointensive® method at our local natural food store and decided to give it a try. The organized practices and step by step instructions made it easy. We loved the self-sufficiency, care of the land and nutrition it offered; a way to slowly step out of the main stream culture of consumption and damage to the earth. Our vegetables were doing beautifully, even in the foggy summers along the coast!
As we hiked and explored the lands surrounding San Francisco on the weekends, we discovered Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center, just over the Golden Gate bridge near Muir Woods. Green Gulch utilizes the French Intensive method that Alan Chadwick brought to the U.S., and who was a huge influence on John Jeavons. There, we got to see a much larger scale of this same method. We were just beginning to explore the practice of Zen Buddhism, so this was a perfect match. We could volunteer in the garden for half a day; stay for a delicious, organic, silent lunch and meditate in the main hall with the residents every Saturday. It was a huge learning period on many levels.
We also started our adventure into backpacking in the wild places of California. It is a BIG, expansive landscape with many places rarely visited by humans; loaded with bears, mountain lions, wild rivers and streams, we felt more alive than ever. As budding naturalists and environmentalists we wanted as close a relationship with nature as possible and we thought this would be the way.
Through research and exposure to writers and ideas from authors such as Gary Snyder, Joanna Macy, John Muir, John Trudell, Joy Harjo, Russell Means, Chellis Glendenning & Henry David Thoreau, our practice quickly developed into one of learning our connection to the earth and the impact we have in all we do. After a friend shared Tom Brown, Jr.’s first book The Tracker , we devoured his whole series. When we saw he was offering his "Standard Class" in California we eagerly signed up! This blew open the doors of perception about exactly how connected to nature we could get. I went on to take many classes over a 16 year period with Tom and his amazing teachers and continue to take online courses with him.
Finally, after years of city living we decided it was time to move closer to fulfilling our dream of living on our own land. We moved to a tiny cabin among the redwoods in the small town of Willits, California, 3 hours north of the city. Now we could begin the hunt for our own place while living closer to the land and deepening our newly found practices.
Willits is also where Ecology Action is located with John Jeavons’ demonstration site and education center. Although we did not make that connection at the time we moved there, the Universe was helping us along. I started work at the natural food store in town and discovered John Jeavons was a regular customer! I soon acquired a position at Ecology Action and had the honor and joy to see the level at which his method could be applied and benefit so many around the world.
Willits is also home to amazing herbalist Donna D’Terra, who was offering a nine month Yerba Woman Herbal Apprenticeship at her home in the hills outside town. Perfect! I would learn even more about the plants growing all around me and how to turn them into medicine!
At this point, our interests truly began to coalesce. The combination of wilderness camping & backpacking that brought us into weeks of wilderness beauty and solitude; indigenous/wilderness skills that gave us a deeper sense of reciprocity with the earth; soil building through organic intensive food growing, and plant identifying & herbal medicine giving us more autonomy from man made medical systems; brought together so many aspects of connection that we had been looking for. We knew then that this would be our path for years to come.
In 2002 we decided to relocate to the East. We had never intended to leave California, the home of our birth as environmentalists with deep ties to the plants and landscape. But land prices were beyond our means and we saw the dangers of the fragile ecosystem being effected by development; fires, droughts, mud slides and flooding.
We wanted a small town with diversity, an ecologically minded community, beautiful landscape, affordable and lots of water. We found that in the Ithaca area and within a year moved to the land we caretake now in Willseyville, New York. It is the shared ancestral land of the Susquehannock, Haudenosaunee, Conestoga and Onondaga. We honor them for their ways of living in deep connection to the earth and living for so many generations without damaging their home by striving to learn and practice ways of doing the same in our current times.
Though we are not organic certified by the USDA, we practice an organic intensive method of food cultivation focused on minimizing soil disturbance while maximizing resiliency in communities both above and below the ground. This is part of the biointensive method and critical to our health the health of the planet.
In 2012, I discovered the beautiful, female centered teachings of Lynn Andrews when Jeff brought home a copy of her first book Medicine Woman from our local library book sale. He knows well my love of books about indigenous wisdom, bringing in the magic of nature connection and healing arts. This was a female version of The Tracker books and Carlos Castaneda books combined! I read the entire twelve book series of her shamanic training under Agnes Whistling Elk and Ruby Plenty Chiefs in just a few months. In 2013 I began her four-year shamanic studies apprenticeship called The Mystery School and graduated in 2016, receiving my ordination into the International Assembly of Spiritual Healers and Earth Stewards Congregation. This has helped bring balance to all my previous practices and helped me see that this female energy is what we and the world need for wholeness.
I offer my classes for women only; because women need space to feel, be and express themselves and learn skills to empower themselves. Now is the time to reclaim our power like never before in herstory!