Heritage Hands

Goats Milk Soaps on display

Goat’s Milk Soap from The Rustic Goat in North Scituate.

What a marvelous time we had at Saturday’s Wine and Homesteading Party hosted by my friend Surya in her new home. A small group of hobby and entrepreneurial farmers gathered to sample wines, goat cheese and other goat milk products, homemade preserves, and gluten free breads while exchanging tips and enjoying a warm, natural camaraderie. The group of about twenty or so friends and acquaintances gathered in Thompson, Connecticut in an area known as “The Quiet Corner” of the state. Here, heritage farming and homestead practices are not just kept alive, but are shared and handed over to anyone who has a sincere interest.

Though the house is new to my friend, broad floor boards swear to long and useful service.   After lying fallow for a good many years, the land surrounding it will once again yield to the plow, as Surya expands her gardens. A good deal of work will be required, some second-growth trees need to be cleared, but she is excited about the prospects of planting, nurturing and harvesting herbs and vegetables.  Already an accomplished freelance photographer and independent filmmaker, Surya has also trained dogs for show, and is turning her attention to Angora rabbits.

A highlight of the evening was Louise Walsh’s demonstration of spinning and fiber art. Displaying a deft hand with the techniques of the ‘drop spindle’ and pedal wheel, she sets about her task with joy and humor, not to mention that she makes it look so simple! The breed she developed in the early 1980’s (bunny on her lap in the video) produces twice the amount of hair that their smaller counterparts grow. And these Giant Angora’s are just as gentle as any fluffy bunny of any breed. See Louise in a short demonstration.

The upcoming holidays provided an excellent reason for bringing friends together. And this night was a genuine treat. How often do you have the chance to engage the artisan, sample the wares and purchase such truly unique gifts? I’ll be so pleased to present these delights to friends and family. My heart will say: These are gifts with meaning, enhanced by the animated stories behind them. A real person made this; a person who works with and respects the land. This gift comes with a few ideas the artisan shared with me. I thought of you, and knew you’d appreciate it and the stories engendered by this gathering of friends, artisans and farmers. I’m grateful for each and every one of them, for their commitment to the land, and to a not-quite-lost heritage that belongs to all of us and that they are so ready to share.

I’m happy now to share it with you, and I trust you will feel free to pass it along as part of our home and hearth and heritage.

Artisans who shared their products of the land on this evening include:

Louise with her Giant Angora Rabbits at Evergreen Farm: www.evergreenfarm.biz
and https://www.facebook.com/louise.walsh.395?ref=ts&fref=ts

Terry’s Tasty Treasures (blog): http://terryyeaw.wordpress.com/about-terrys-tasty-treasures/

Tammy, Lee and Denise of The Rustic Goat: https://www.facebook.com/HeritageHavenHomestead?ref=ts&fref=ts

Farms and Gardens Enrich Your Summer Vacation

Something odd caught my attention recently while driving down Roosevelt Avenue in Pawtucket.  A pergola-type pavilion had sprouted up in the parking lot next to a church and a YMCA.  Turns out, I was looking at part of an accessible community garden that was built by a unique partnership of community members, business leaders and architecture students who were brought together by vision and need.

Community gardens and co-operative farms bring fresh vegetables to consumers.

Raised Beds in Community Garden are more easily accessible

The garden, designed and built by RISD students, consists of raised beds that are framed by solid beams, making it possible to weed and tend plantings without back breaking bending, or kneeling on the ground.  These gardens will afford members of the nearby church and residents of local senior housing a productive hobby and a chance to meet and work with other like-minded neighbors.  Youngsters from the “Y” will get hands-on gardening experience while connecting with the earth and soil.

Urban and co-operative gardens are not new, but the recent trend to bring gardening and its fresh produce back into consumers’ hands is increasing in popularity, purpose and extent.  City dwellers and suburbanites are finding that a commitment to gardening reaps benefits even greater than the harvest itself. Plus, it’s a terrific project for parents and kids of almost any age to spend time together.

Another community farming opportunity is Franklin Farm in Cumberland.  Located on a bucolic section of Abbot Run Valley Road, Franklin Farm was primarily a dairy farm going back many generations.  Active dairying ceased some years ago, though mowing hay continued. The property was given over to the Town of Cumberland and is now a place where school children, civic groups and other volunteers grow produce destined for the Rhode Island Food Bank and community kitchens elsewhere in the state.

There are many such farms and gardens in the area – one is sure to be near you. Take advantage of it. Your involvement will be welcomed and your summer vacation will be enriched.

These websites provide more information about the gardens mentioned here, and will be helpful in choosing the farming experience that’s right for your family this summer.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Seed-Rhode-Island/174613642586147?sk=wall http://www.pawtuckettimes.com/content/risd-students-develop-community-ties http://franklinfarmri.org/community-garden



Grace Note Farm, Burrillville
Hi-on-a-Hill Herb Farm, North Smithfield