For 30 years, 1971-2001, my husband and I operated a small hand/horse-powered farm on a remote peninsula on Cape Breton Island, a move which changed my life forever. Although we had been moving in this direction--growing large vegetable gardens, preserving the produce, keeping cows, horses, chickens, pigs, making hay--we rented, not owned, these farms (we even kept a cow in a garage and made butter in the bathtub before we rented a proper farm). Now we owned 100 acres on a lonely peninsula, at the end of a badly rutted dirt road, in the hinterlands of Cape Breton on the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia. I called this place the 3 no's: no running water, no telephone, no vehicle (except horse-drawn). It may sound forbidding and unattractive but to us it was a challenge.
It was here that I learned how to harness a horse, fell trees with a cross-cut saw (my husband Jigs at the other end), stand on top of a haywagon and pile a ton of hay so it wouldn't fall off, and, when needed, spread manure by moonlight after a day in the woods. All this in addition to the usual farm and cooking chores. This spare close-to-nature life inspired many articles and books: Old Fashioned Fruit Garden; Heirloom Garden; Living with Herbs; Herbs in Bloom; Gardens of Use & Delight with Jigs Gardner; Elegant Silvers with Karen Bussolini; and the forthcoming Seeds of Transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible Through Plants.
It was my life experiences on the farm that enabled me to feel so close to the Bible. From the making of the first garden, Eden, through the hard journey of the Israelites to the Promised Land, I felt I was there, and it is this feeling of closeness to real soil, real dirt, real life that I communicate to modern readers in my lectures about the Bible and in my new book, Seeds of Transcendence. I think of this as teaching the Bible from the ground up, literally. We can only understand the spiritual vision when we grasp the material world that shaped it.
In 2001, we moved to a one-room schoolhouse in New York’s Champlain Valley where we maintain a small farm with extensive gardens, and where we still practice the principles of simple living that sustained us through our life's journey. Since 1978, I have been offering workshops and inspiring lectures in the U.S., Canada and abroad on herbs, heirloom plants, roses, biblical flora, and more recently, classes on the Book of Ruth to churches, synagogues, plant groups, and schools.
Click for more information about my lectures. Plan a special event and I will be there to help you celebrate! Fees depend on traveling distance and venue, and are negotiable. If your organization wants to sell my books at your event, this can be arranged.
My articles have appeared in American Gardener, Adirondack Life, Canadian Gardening, Farming: People, Land, Community, Fine Gardening, Green Scene, Heirloom Gardener, Herbarist, Herb Companion and Old House Journal.
Click for more information about the books that have been inspired by my life experiences on the farm.