I am originally from the Ithaca area of upstate New York. After graduating from Cornell University in 2010 with a degree in Applied Economics, I pursued a Fulbright Fellowship exploring agricultural finance in Mexico City, Mexico. Returning stateside in the fall of 2011, I worked in agricultural consulting and moved from Trumansburg, NY to Sedona, AZ to San Diego, CA before arriving at Calypso. I am interested in food production systems and chose to spend a summer at calypso to learn about diversified vegetable production and operating a CSA. I have had countless first-time experiences on the farm this summer from blacksmithing and spinning to kohlrabi eating and snowflakes in August, but my favorite activity has been going to the Southside Community Market every Tuesday. In addition to meeting so many fantastic people at Calypso and in the Fairbanks community, the program has prepared me to live a more self-reliant lifestyle, run a CSA, and create programs that combine community, food, and education. Upon completing the program I intend to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural economics and hope to have a career teaching about food systems while operating a farm of my own. Thank you Calypso, it has been an awesome summer!
About yourself: I am originally from the Midwest; I moved to Anchorage awhile back and will be starting a farm in Alaska as soon as it’s feasible.
Why did you choose to spend a season at Calypso? Calypso offers a dizzying array of learning opportunities. They have the best educational farming environment that I have found in the state.
Three highlights of the program: Helping with the birth of our newest goat kids–Satyr and Siren, Pinga–my first farm employee and puppy, learning the science behind soil formation and plant growth.
Impact of the Program: After this course I feel confident in my ability to be successful starting a farming business at any scale.
I was born and raised in the borderlands between Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky. I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland and received a BFA in fiber and textile art. My artistic work focuses mainly on costume, puppetry and performance. I have studied and participated in ritual theater and contemporary puppetry in Indonesia, as well as political puppet theater with Bread and Puppet and processional events in the United States. I love crafting and sharing stories and really strive to create moments during which one can feel the wonder that still exists in the world through her making. I also enjoy stilt walking, singing, square dancing, playing the ukulele and have discovered a whole new love of farming while here at Calypso.
I chose to spend a season at Calypso because I wanted to reconnect with the physical world around me, live simpler, learn new skills, get my hands dirty, and have an adventure in the far north. I wanted to learn ways to become more self-sufficient in an environment where others might share similar philosophies and share their stories. I was searching for a well-rounded program that touched on everything– homesteading, animal husbandry, farm production, environmental education, and new making skills. The Calypso experience has been everything I could imagine and more. I am filled to the brim with new love, knowledge, and inspiration!
Three of my favorite activities/highlights on the farm are what I’ll call the three “M’s” the making, the microbes and the magic. The making refers to all of the new creative skills I have learned and have been able to explore here. I have been entranced by the fires of the forge blacksmithing, captivated by the world of natural materials such as birch bark and enamored with the worlds of wool spinning and natural dyeing. All of my creative gears and joints are spinning with life and it feels so good! The microbes refers to an “Ah ha!” moment I had one day while we were mucking out the barn to start the compost pile. That week we had been talking a great deal about the life of the soil and all of the microbes that aid in plant growth and health. The first time I shoveled a bit of manure-hay and saw steam come up out of the pile I was simply amazed. I had to stop for a moment in awe at the tiny microscopic world we can’t see that was letting off so much heat energy that I could warm my hands with the steam. That moment made me feel so glad to be a part of this beautiful complex world we live in and at the same time made me realize what a small part we play and how little we truly know. The magic is somewhat related to the microbes. It refers to the feelings I have whenever I think about those tiny little black and brown seeds I planted at the beginning of the summer that are now luscious green vegetable plants almost to maturity that have been feeding me for the better part of the summer. Magic is in everything on the farm it seems to me. It’s in the little dragonfly larvae I watched float around in the pond in the spring. It’s in the eyes of all the sheep as I sit in the barn and tell them stories. It’s in the perpetual cycles of life and death that are spinning their way forward through time never ceasing to be any less wondrous than the last.
This program has impacted my life in so many ways that I believe I will still be processing it for many years to come. The greatest thing I have learned is that I can do it! Anyone can do it! I have gained confidence in myself and my abilities and have learned that most things that seem really complicated and difficult are actually much easier than I initially thought–from making salves to seven different kinds of pesto, to a handcrafted toolbox, to left-handed knitting and blacksmithing a barbeque fork! I came here wanting to gain new skills and learn the true ins and outs of running a small-scale diverse farm. I have learned worlds more and will be able to carry that knowledge with me and share it with others confidently wherever I go.
I consider Michigan, Bolivia and Yosemite home, and have a background in Sociology and coffee roasting. Regardless of where I am, I tend to bring books, tea and Nag Champa. I chose to spend a season in Calypso’s Farmer Training Program as I thought it’d push me to grow in my understanding of raising one’s own food, and living more simply and resourcefully, but while also living abundantly.
Three highlights: 1.) That Which is Wood-Fired: There isn’t much that’s more satisfying than brick-oven baked pizzas after mornings in the fields, washing off and relaxing in the sauna, or spinning skeins of wool in the fiber studio as it rains outside and the wood stove blazes. 2.) The complementary privileges of living alongside and working with such talented individuals, and having access to quiet, peaceful walks alone in the boreal forest. 3.) The satisfaction and empowerment that comes from finding things that you doubtfully put into the ground to have grown as you hadn’t imagined possible, and to be very good.
Impact of the Program: I feel that I am much better prepared to grow my own food, farm on my own and implement various techniques of living more sustainably in my own life. The hands-on experiences and introductions to myriad skills has been just as helpful in allowing me to cull areas that I consider less important to focus on, as it has been in introducing me to new ideas and practices. I’m also thankful to have experienced a season of the Alaskan lifestyle, and despite distance, will always feel a certain camaraderie as I go barefoot further into the season than is considered reasonable by those in “America”.
Until now, I have spent most of my life in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. My interest in farming was first piqued through work on the campus farm at St. Olaf College, where I received a degree in Studio Art. I’m exploring how to make a livelihood sharing food, creativity, and wellness, and enjoy filling my free spaces with cooking, writing, music, and forest frolicking.
The individually tailored nature of the Farmer Training Program, as well as the variety of people and activities going on at the farm, made Calypso the perfect place to pursue all my interests. I wanted to be in a hands-on learning environment gaining the confidence and skills to grow my own food and potentially start a small-scale business in the future.
3 Highlights: Prepping or planting on a beautiful day can’t be beat. Every day in the field is a chance to pick the brains of experienced farmers, practice our accent repertoire, or make up another song about veggies. We have a lot of fun together.
Creative skills such as spinning, block-printing, blacksmithing, dyeing, and thrifty problem solving are immersed into each week of the program. Being around other people who are making things has been a great source of inspiration!
Becoming familiar with and foraging native plants around the farm have changed the way I experience nature and are ever expanding my idea of community. I love going out in the forest and seeing how much things have transformed.
Impact: Immersing myself in this environment has taught me so much about growing food and leading a self-sufficient lifestyle, providing the education I had hoped for and sparking my curiosity in a host of new pursuits. The Whole Farm Plan has been an invaluable and challenging exercise, allowing me to explore how my personal mission and skills might be translated into a farm that shares fullness of life with my community. I will complete the program full of inspiration and the momentum to keep learning and moving toward a future farm.