Tag Archives: family farms

Celebrating 365

Years, that is!

Cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force

My family’s farm, Rose Orchards, is celebrating 365 years of continuous farming by the Rose family.  We’re having a great big celebration on July 23, with lots of events and activities for family fun.

I love to think about what life was like in those early days, back in the mid-1600’s.  Life was surely much harder, but families were much more self-sufficient and lived sustainably.  I imagine that their biggest concerns were to grow, harvest and put by enough food, chop enough firewood, and make enough warm clothes to last throughout the long, cold New England winter.  Growing crops, raising animals, canning, sewing, knitting, crocheting, other handcrafts, fermenting, drying food, cooking and baking were means of survival, not the spare-time hobbies of today. 

Was it less or more stressful to live back then? I often wonder, as I can see both sides.  On one hand, they didn’t have to worry about climate change, polluted air, polluted water, depletion of fossil fuels, endangered species, population control, and other contemporary environmental concerns.  On the other hand, there was a constant need to provide for yourself and your family, prepare for cold weather, and the aspects of life beyond control: drought, or floods, illnesses, injuries, infection, never quite knowing if you’ve split enough wood or put away enough hay.  Though my ancestors’ daily activities were much more strongly tied to their survival than my own, I think their lives were harder and maybe more stressful, in a different way, than my present-day experience.

As my family gears up to celebrate 365 years of Rose family farming, I find myself so thankful to have grown up in this place.  I’m thankful to each of the thirteen generations for keeping the farm going, reinventing it so it can survive and be passed down.  I love to listen to stories from my parents and grandparents, and I miss talking to my great-grandmother.

And so, when I think about what role I will play in keeping the farm alive for another generation, I know it’s different but still important.  I no longer live on the farm, though it’s a few minutes away and we visit often.  I don’t spend my days working on the farm or contribute to the family business in any measurable way.  But yet, I love it.  I am connected to that land in a way that many people can’t understand. 

I fight for family farms with my dollars, my votes, and my blog.  I know, admire, and support my local farmers.  I frequent farmer’s markets.  I contact my representatives when I see threats to family farms, and I vote accordingly.  I am an environmental activist, in essence, because I love family farms and I see that they are hit particularly hard by environmental problems like pollution of our air, water and soil.  If I stand up to polluters and demand that my representatives do the same, then I am standing up for family farms.

Please join the Moms Clean Air Force to help us fight for clean air for our kids. We need your voice! If you haven’t already, please email the EPA to show your support of the new Mercury and Air Toxics rule. Thank you!

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A Tribute to Agriculture

I think I’ve mentioned here before that family farms are important to me, right? 🙂  Well, I’m very happy to share that my town’s high school is developing a program to promote agriculture, build a greenhouse, and work with local farmers to farm an acre plot near the school.  I got involved by sharing some lesson plans and activities that could be used in a greenhouse (I teach in a neighboring town and have a greenhouse attached to my room *dream classroom!*).  You can read the newspaper article about the plan, where I’m flattered to be mentioned for the small role that I played.  So, in honor of this announcement, I’m devoting this post to local farms.

When I think of New England farms, I think of barns.

Mema’s dairy barn, on the farm where my mom grew up

The barn at Ed’s parents house, where woodworking takes place

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A neighbor/ friend’s barn, home of their family’s garden center

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The historical society’s barn, that houses town artifacts

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My family’s farm market

And my favorite picture, the waterwheel barn at my family’s farm, decorated for Christmas by my brother Nathaniel

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A book?

For my MS in Science Education/Biology, I did a special project instead of a thesis.  I wrote a week’s worth of workshops to help elementary school teachers learn science content.  It was a great experience, especially since I aligned my project with the state standards, so I really understood what I could expect from my students when they get to high school.  It was also great when, last spring, a colleague and I ran a modified version of these workshops with our district’s 4th and 5th grade teachers.  I really enjoyed working with other educators, and the enthusiasm of elementary school teachers was wonderful.  I’m used to critical science teachers!

So now I’m working on a second MS.  This one’s in Environmental Education, and I’m really enjoying the program.  I’m already thinking about my special project, because I can do it at any time and not just at the end of my studies.  For the last week or so I’ve been contemplating writing a book.  This book would combine my skills and experiences as a science educator with my environmental interests.  I’d love to write a book full of activities for families to use to explore their local food systems.  This would be an informal educational book with activities for families to experience together, but it could also be useful for homeschoolers, teachers, or green groups.  My book would include science activities (my area of expertise), field trip ideas, and activities for crafts, gardening, and simple recipes that bring families together to learn about where their food comes from.  The book would incorporate an exploration of local foods with environmental aspects, small family farms, and science activities.  I’m really excited about this.

When I first started thinking about writing a book, I didn’t think I could do it.  While I enjoy writing, I’m far from a trained writer.  How would I convey everything I want to about the environment, farming, science, and local food, while bringing families together? Finally, I got the idea to compile a series of activities.  That’s what I do! I am completely comfortable writing activities, and once I started thinking about it, there were a lot of ideas floating around in my head.  I think I can do it.

I still need to speak to my advisor about it, but now I’m thinking I might want to write this book even if I can’t use it for my special project.

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Filed under Food, Gardening, Local Agriculture, Outside, Sustainable Living