Step into Life at White Rose Farm!

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Posted 12/4/2015 9:00am by Sally Voris .

I woke anxious this morning. Perhaps I listened to too much news yesterday. I wondered what I could do. Then I remembered this image from the Ringing Cedars of Russia series by Vladimir Megre.

The heroine in the series, Anastasia, said that the most spiritual thing a couple could do was to create a space of love for their children. She spoke of a garden, a homestead. Dennis Klocek, in his book, Climate: The Soul of the Earth, writes of atmosphere as the sphere of breath that surrounds our planet.

We each have the power to change the atmosphere in the world when we imagine that we are giving our breath of love to the breath of the world. Each moment that we meet with love affects the world and all around us. What an antidote to violence!

Years ago, I was a member of a group of women. This poem emerged from that group:

 

Just before dawn, breathe with the incoming light.

As the new day begins, pray for your land,

For the people of other lands, for the heartbeat of the world.

Put your fear into a space of love, a circle of love,

The center of a circle of love.

                                                      Adapted by Sally Voris from a ROUG group, 2011

 

Robin Kissinger set the words to music, which I recorded and posted with the help of friends at www.soundcloud.com/whiterosefarm

 

May it lift our spirits and strengthen our hearts!

 

Soulfully,

 

sally



Sally Voris, White Rose Farm

www.whiterosefarm.com, 410-756-9303

Posted 12/1/2015 9:29am by Sally Voris .

We met by headlights at the end of the farm lane, three young women who came late to the full moon gathering last Wednesday. I had been alone as I lit a fire, beat a drum and sang songs earlier that evening, remembering many who had been present at earlier gatherings

“ I'll get the fire going again,” I offered, so grateful to have women join me. As I reassembled the logs I had scattered in the fire pit, I explained that years ago, a sensitive friend had said that the Earth herself was birthing a new way of being. It was not just global warming due to man's polluting the Earth, the Earth herself was changing. That framed Earth's story differently for me. This was a birthing process.

I remembered how when I had birthed my son, a coach had been present for me. She often said I was doing well, but it was her warm steady presence that spoke most deeply to me. Her body stayed calm as my body contracted in childbirth. I decided to be present for the Earth at each full moon.

The young women had come after work. They loved sitting under the full moon. It is so feminine, I responded. Why was it feminine? they asked earnestly. I struggled to find words. The moon influences all reproduction on the Earth, I answered. The Moon influences all water on the planet, and it is water that helps seeds pop open. Native Americans call menstruation, moon time. The women live in separate housing during that time, I had been told, though I did not know all the reasons for that practice. My answers seemed inadequate, though the women were grateful for what I shared.

Perhaps now, I would say that the moon speaks of mystery—the mystery of birth, death, life itself. Women hold that mystery deep within themselves. “The well inside a woman's spirit is so deep,” said a friend, “that we dare not enter it early in our lives.” Another friend, an octogenarian, often quotes from A Circle of Stones by Erynn Rowan Laurie. “What if there had been a circle of women?” What if there had been a circle of women to show us how to mature and blossom as women? Now I was in a position to be an elder--to be a teacher--to explain what my mother had not explained to me. How was I to reweave the threads of feminine knowing that have been forgotten, burned and buried in our psyche?

I remembered what older women had shared with me: women who had become more beautiful as they aged--women who carried a sense of presence and blessing with them. We stood at the four directions, we gave thanks for our time together, we honored our ancestors. We lifted our arms to the heavens and danced simple movements. As we sang simple rounds, our voices nearly danced around a cedar fire. We shared our longing and our commitment to give to the Earth--to do what we could to heal what has been so damaged. We asked for blessings of peace and strength.. I saw the faces of these women only by silvery moonlight and firelight. Geese flew overhead, honking in flight.

“It is the grandmothers who are leading us through this time,” a friend responded as I told stories about our evening together. Earlier in the week, she had said, “Whatever life I have left in me, I want to drop my bucket into the well of life.” Her friend had taught a group of women how to honor the earth as she had aged; she has been teaching me. Now it was becoming my turn to teach others.

So I give thanks for this time, for the women who have been mentors to me, and to the Earth herself who has so much to teach, so much to share, to the women who are coming, coming to learn from a circle of women, and to the well, that is so deep, so present, so mysterious and so inviting….

 

Posted 10/11/2015 6:38pm by Sally Voris .

Full-sized apples are finally falling off the trees my father planted forty years ago. For the last two months, I have collected a bucketful of immature apples from the ground every morning and fed them to my hogs and cows. Now large, tasty, crisp, fully-formed apples have arrived! So have the yellow jackets and their cousins, those I am calling super-jackets, wasps four times the size of regular bees.

Yellow jackets usually arrive midsummer and feast on sugars: outdoor picnic items, soft drinks and fruit. This year, they arrived two months late. Do I know why? No. The super-jackets arrived too. Have I ever seen these wasps before? Maybe one or two. This year, they have arrived in numbers. They burrow almost completely into the apples; the yellow jackets eat the outer layer. On some apples, there are no wasps; they swarm on others. Do I understand why? No.

I could get stung as I wrap my fingers around an apple. I choose to be careful: I pick the good apples for me, the seconds for my hogs and several as treats for the cows. This morning, I brought my camera to get pictures of these wasps. The yellow jackets seemed to sense my presence—or my shadow—and fly away. The super-jackets just kept on eating and buzzing—a buzz so loud that it puts me on edge. They seem to prefer the south side of the tree. I enter that area gingerly, observing the wasps closely.

Is life ever perfect? Maybe. For one moment occasionally. Does fear make sweetness more potent? Maybe. Perhaps tartness and sting serve as its needed contrast, just as darkness serves as contrast to light, and death to life. Does not knowing whether a moment will get more intoxicating, or whether it is finished, help us savor what is before us, what we feel inside us? Sometimes.

So it is with my cow, Buttercup. She had a heifer on April 30. We named her Daisy. In September, friends took Daisy to their farm. I did not have a fence strong enough to keep mother and daughter apart to wean her. I did not want to confine either of them. Daisy had enjoyed her mother's milk for nearly five months. The local veterinarian had said I needed to check the cow's teats: if they got hot and hard, she had mastitis and would need treatment. So every morning, I tied her to a fence, put two handfuls of grain in a bucket and milked her lightly while she ate. The calf sucked the rest of the milk. I had work in the garden. 

I planned to let Buttercup go dry so I could move her to other pastures. That first morning though, I remembered how it felt to have breasts so full that they hurt. I decided to milk her to relieve her discomfort. I tied her. I fed her grain. I stooped next to her. Her udders were dripping with milk. Perhaps I milked a quart before she swung her hind leg forward. “Enough!” she conveyed.

That milk looked so frothy and rich, that the next day, I went out to milk her—this time for me. I have milked each morning since then. My neighbor looked at where I am milking her. She shook her head, concerned about my safety. She had milked a herd-full of cows. I milk one. I have a stanchion in the barn, but milking her there would change her routine so dramatically that I felt it would spook her.

So every morning, I crouch next to the cow to milk her, prepared to move quickly should she swing her leg. She gets more settled every day. The cream is nearly golden, and almost half of what I get each day. I imagine making sour cream, butter and yogurt. Today, I used the milk in mashed potatoes. I felt so complete! 

Will the cow and I become more at ease with each other, or will she kick me tomorrow? I cannot know. So often fear and pleasure, sweetness and sting are bound together. I can choose them both or I can choose to walk away, but oh how I am fed when I enter the dance!

Life is for living.  

Posted 10/9/2015 4:20pm by Sally Voris .

My first airbnb guests came in January driving a rental car on unfamiliar country roads through a snow storm. I welcomed them with hot tea, toast and jam. We sat and visited. Mother and daughter had come on a college tour from Seattle. The daughter had applied for a scholarship to a college in Maryland. In August, she returned, accompanied by her father, to start her freshman year.

Now six weeks after school started, the mother had returned with a friend for parents weekend.She came with a plan, though I never knew who had concocted the plan, mother or daughter or both. She would visit with her daughter at college; she wanted a tour of the farm and she and her friend, a chef, would prepare a fabulous home-cooked meal for her daughter and her new friends.

She arrived on Wednesday evening exhausted. I called her on Thursday morning and urged her to visit the garden before five days of rain started. I gave them a quick tour and then dug sweet potatoes. They finished picking veggies as the first raindrops fell. That afternoon, they visited her daughter. The next day, they went to a Rummage Sale and bought large pots and pans. They bought fresh meat and cheese at a local dairy and pasta and bread at the local supermarket. They assembled ingredients.

Next day, mother, daughter and friend, visited and cooked for the evening meal—a feast of homemade meatballs and pasta, fresh, dressed salad, green beans with almonds, small succulent squash and a quince and pear crumble with heavy cream. (The mother had brought the quince in her suitcase rather than let the fruit rot on the tree in her back yard.)

When I arrived, the students were seated in a circle conversing. They had come from near and far to attend the honors program. They had known each other six weeks, and had already had various adventures together. I asked them their names and introduced the farm to them. The twelve of us moved to the dining room table. The meal was served; I sang a blessing; the conversation began.

“Do you have any cows,” One young man asked. “I miss my cows.” He was used to milking 65 cows daily I have two Jerseys, I answered, and added, “Cows are such warm, earthy animals.” “I want to see your cows!” he nearly moaned. “Do you have any ducks?” another asked. I do have one duck, I responded, an Indian Runner. His grandfather raised mallard ducks on the Eastern Shore. I told a story about the difference between ducks and chickens.

These two had felt at home as they traveled along country roads to get to the farm. Another student, a young man from Chicago, shared his uneasiness midst fields of corn. The country boys scoffed. “You probably wouldn't be too comfortable on the streets of Chicago,” I admonished. They agreed.

As the women prepared dessert, I opened a bottle of the farm's elder flower champagne and offered a toast to the students. After dinner, I invited them to walk into a corn field. All but one accepted!

We went into the night. Rain had fallen throughout the day; water dripped off the trees. It was so dark and close that I could not see my hand in front of my face,. “Feel the path with your feet!” I counseled. They followed me to the top of the hill and into the rows of corn. We stood silently and listened, moist darkness all around. On the way back, they moved as a cohesive whole.

The mother shared later that she had wanted to get to know her daughter's friends since her daughter was in college all way way across the country. She had succeeded magnificently! Indeed it had been a night of rich sharing all around! There are so many ways to connect on a farm!

 

Posted 10/6/2015 8:03pm by Sally Voris .

Digesting the Season...

I burned my face in a brush fire this summer. As I was healing,  I reread Rudolf Steiner's lectures on Agriculture. I noticed how frequently he spoke of intimacy with nature. “Mere intellectuality is not enough, “ he said.” It does not get us deep enough. Nature's life and flow are so fine and subtle that in the end, they slip right through the coarse mesh of our rational concepts.”

 “Without...insight into the interconnections and interactions of nature, it is really almost impossible to engage in an enterprise like farming, which is so closely bound up with nature,”he asserted. He described the intimate relationships between the earth, moon, sun, stars, the elements, the soil, the animals and plants. He said it was essential for the farmer to develop a personal relationship with his farm—to truly participate in nature.

 It is similar to parenting a child or being in deep relationship with a partner. One considers what to say, when to speak, when to remain silent, how to move, when to walk away, when to engage--even how to carry oneself. 

Think of the word, “consumer,”a word often used to describe Americans. Ingest is one of its synonyms, and its root word is “take.” Cancer consumes. Digest, on the other hand, is defined as to separate and absorb. The digestive system has three different processes: ingestion, digestion and absorption. We can ingest great food, ideas, and experiences, but unless we digest and absorb what we take in, and then use our energy to give back, we have not completed the natural cycle of nature. 

For many years, Rule #1 on the farm has been: “The farmer must be standing at the end of the day.” Now I wonder, what is under standing? Sub stance. Steiner's lectures on Agriculture share how how to bring spirit into sub stance—so that the ground of our being supports understanding.

I offer this as food for thought and will send another e-mail about programs we are offering at the farm this fall.  

 

Sally Voris, White Rose Farm

www.whiterosefarm.com, 410-756-9303

Posted 10/3/2015 7:00am by Sally Voris .

In Touch with Apples, Portrait One

When I first came to the farm. I barely tended the apple trees that my father planted 40 years ago. I strung a hammock between their trunks and guests swung happily there.

Last year, a guest noticed the apple trees. He grew up in Germany. Now he lived in a suburb of Washington, DC. He hungered to pick apples fresh from a tree as he had done as a child. We pulled out a ladder and he climbed and picked. “These are the best apples I have ever tasted!” he exclaimed. He sliced the apples into thin wedges and placed them into oatmeal pancakes as they cooked. We feasted! He carried a basket of apples home to feed his family.

I had looked at the trees and felt guilty and inadequate: the apples were gnarled and rotted easily. I did not want to use chemicals, but I did not know what else I could do. I did prune the trees hard one year with my neighbor. This man simply cut out the bad parts and focused on the taste—these apples were crisp, juicy, dense and flavorful.

On a cool day in March, he came with his family to help me prune the trees. We spent hours trimming branches so that sunlight could filter into the tree. The trees filled with blossom. Small apples formed on the tree. Instead of letting them rot on the ground, I picked the immature apples and fed them to the hogs by the bucketful. In early September, full-sized apples hit the ground with a solid thump. I began picking the good ones to eat and continued to give the seconds to the hogs.

This man and his wife came around the fall equinox to perform a puppet show. Both skilled musicians, they are attentive to details of pitch and presentation. The next morning, he carefully sliced the apples into wedges just before we ladled the pancake batter into the griddle so that the apples would not turn brownish. We feasted! Again, he picked apples to take home. Russian immigrants had come to see the puppet show. They too marveled, “In three years in this country, we have never tasted a better apple!”

What kind of apples are they? My father left no record. Perhaps an apple expert could tell me. I do know these massive trees—some 30 feet tall and wide with trunks nearly twenty inches in diameter--came from strong root stock. They were planted in a good location with a vision for the future. I have used biodynamic practices to restore health to the farm.

The trees get fresh air and plenty of sunshine. Bees buzz in the blossoms in the springtime; birds flit in the trees in the summer. We harvest apples in the fall. We eat applesauce all winter and spread ashes from the wood stove around the trees the next spring. It is full cycle, full circle living. What is a wart or two?

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In Touch with Apples, Portrait Two

My neighbor and I went for a drive in the country in early September. We went to an orchard and bought apples and grapes. I noticed three people sitting on benches in the back of the barn, cutting leaves from short, straight branches. They worked with ease and familiarity with very sharp knives. I went to them immediately and asked what they were doing. Perhaps they looked up for a minute--their hands kept working. We are stripping cherries, one said, getting them ready to bud graft.

Oh, I have always wanted to learn to do that!” I responded. “Can I come watch?”

Sure.” was their immediate response. They described how they spent their days on their knees bud-grafting trees when they were younger, clearly glad not to be doing it now.

The next morning, I got to the orchard at 7:00 am. I followed the foreman in my truck along back roads near Gettysburg. We stopped in a field. Before us stretched thousands of trees—--a thousand to each row, perhaps 500 rows, with a label at the end of each row noting the root stock that had been planted this spring.

The foreman exchanged a brief good morning with six migrant workers. Then two of those workers took bundles of the stripped branches out of the foreman's truck. They took the bud sticks to the field and began walking down a row. They expertly picked up a branch, cut the buds out of it, held those buds in one hand, while they cut two notches in the root stock of each small seedling. Then they slipped a bud into each notch. Two other men followed each lead man and tied the bud into the root stock with plastic tape.

On a good day this crew can do 5,000 trees, the foreman said. He explained that the root stock had come from Washington state where the stock had been seeded. Next spring the crew will cut the root stock off above the stronger bud and cut the plastic tape off of the tree. The trees will become nursery stock, and they will sell more than 100,000 trees a year.

The foreman showed me how to cut the bud off of the stripped branch, how to make the cut in the root stock, how to slip the bud into the cut and how to wrap the bud with tape. He let me practice and gave me a partial roll of budding tape. He offered to sell me root stock so I could start my own trees come spring. He told me to take cuttings from the mature apples next -August to bud graft new trees from my father's old trees.

Perhaps I will invite my German friend and the Russians to help me. Will we be able to carry my father's legacy forward? I do not know......

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In Touch with Apples, Portrait Three

In planting on orchard with maiden fruit trees...it is essential to plant those trees with a total vision in the life of the orchard, both the stock and the scion...and that for the well-being of those trees, it is essential they begin in the nursery soil of the Earth...that in the beginning, they must know Mother Earth as a child when born.” Alan Chadwick

I pondered this world-class gardener's portrait of an orchard. I had never thought of a tree as a child that was born, though I had watched my father plant and tend some fifteen fruit trees in our back yard. He pruned them every winter and sprayed them every spring. We made cider in the fall. He fermented cider for the winter. He planted his orchard with care and vision. I had inherited trees that he planted nearly half a century ago.

As I stood in the field on Gettysburg, looking at rows of root stock planted from slips that had been seeded in Washington state, then shipped across the country to be planted on a hillside in Pennsylvania, I understood more deeply what Chadwick had said. The migrant workers moved down those rows quickly and efficiently because they are paid by the piece.

Where was the sense of connection with a vision of life and nature's bounty? Chadwick passionately expressed a love of nature and her bounty and a commitment to honor her laws.

Where was the touch that honored life itself? The life in the trees as they were born, the life of the migrant workers, the life of the orchardist who tends and sells the trees, the life of the homeowner and dare I say the consumer who eats the apples? Does love make a difference?

I tasted the apples from that orchard. They looked perfect, but they had no oomph! Our modern agricultural system—our entire culture--pays little attention to sub stance—what is beneath our feet. We are not deeply fed, nor can we feed others. Rudolf Steiner in his lectures on Agriculture affirmed that “we must approach everything in farming with the conviction that in order for the whole thing to work, we need to pour life ..into everything around us.”

How much more is an apple than a production number in an orchard? Didn't Eve pick an apple in the Garden of Eden? Didn't Sir Isaac Newton recognize the law of gravity after an apple fell? How do we recognize and nourish the sacred? How do we get back to the garden?

By connecting. By touching the earth and touching other living beings. The German touched me when he helped me see the apple tree in its glory; the Russians were touched by finding a tasty apple in America; the orchardist touched me when he taught me how to bud. Now I can plant trees and teach and touch others. One step, one touch at a time, we can find our way back to the garden. Won't you join me?

 

Posted 8/28/2015 3:30pm by Sally Voris .

Just a week ago, I don't think I would have described my life as “Just Peachy.” I had gotten so worried about my finances, the future and the state of the world, that I lost sight of the moment: perfectly ripe peaches were dropping off of my late peach tree. (I have three trees: an early, a mid and a late season.)

The early peaches ripened just as the Japanese beetle population exploded after the rains in June. Some peaches dropped to the ground and rotted quickly. The peaches on the tree were filled with insects. The farmhand and I went to the tree. Beetles whirred past our faces as we touched the fruit. Was it hornets, bees or wasps that burrowed holes in the fruit to suck its nectar? We shook the tree trunk to get the fruit to drop rather than wrapping our hands around those peaches. Each moment carried the potential for sweetness and pain. We picked anyway.

Now the late peaches drop onto the still ground. They are the best peaches I have ever grown: juicy, sweet, and plentiful. I bring them into the kitchen, slice them and make wonderful concoctions—peach and elderberry jam, peach conserve with cantaloupe, peach chutney, fresh peaches with yogurt, frozen peaches, a peach and arugula salad with raspberry vinaigrette, and peach fizz, a fermented drink using dried elder flower blossoms. I have been in peach heaven!

A ripe peach has the color of an August sunset. Plucked from the tree and eaten fresh, it fills one with the languid, sweet ease of late summer. Peaches, says world-class gardener Alan Chadwick, will never ripen if they are picked too early. One must wait until the acid begins to turn to sugar. Last weekend, a mother watched her young son climb the ladder to pick his own fruit. “A fresh peach is like a kiss, “I say to her. “One must wait for the right timing.” Then one is filled with such deliciousness! Other guests plucked and ate the fruit as juice ran down their faces. It was a perfect moment.

This season, perfect moments have been punctuated by periods of chaotic weather and unusual animal behavior. The normal rhythms have been slightly off kilter. Why are the peaches from this tree nearly perfect while the others rotted so badly? Why are there no insects around the peaches? Perhaps the bees on the property had died, I thought, but just this week, I heard bee buzz in the blooming buckwheat. Perhaps the bees and wasps are feasting elsewhere. Why are there fewer butterflies in my garden? I have fewer flowers. Is it that simple, or is there some larger energy shift at work?

How do I weave these details into a larger coherent whole? I can't: I can't get my mind around them—the rhythms are off, the connections missed--so I have begun focusing on the details that I can manage. I am preparing meals for an elderly friend. He has diabetes and weak kidneys. Doctors and dietitians have given him lists of foods to eat and to avoid. He cannot eat this; he cannot eat that, he recites to me. Yesterday, I put bright blue borage blossoms on the chunks of soft orange cantaloupe I had prepared. Borage, some say, brings joy.

Where is joy, love and caring in your lists, I ask? In the food from the store? Where is joy, love and caring in my own life, I ask myself? Another friend describes how delicious it is to care for herself—to attend to the small details—to wash the dishes with mindfulness. She is immersing herself in those fine details and enjoying life.

Several nights ago, the farmhand and I ate peaches with yogurt, elderberry syrup and some chocolate shavings. It was a sumptuous, simple feast. It was just peachy, I realized later.

Now peach season is ending; pear season is beginning. May I en-joy it!  And may you too delight in the small details! 

Posted 8/4/2015 3:26pm by Sally Voris .

For the last five years of her husband's life, my neighbor sat next to him reading as he dozed in his recliner. He had been a feisty, skilled farmer. Now he barely spoke. The last Christmas he was alive, she made him his favorite cake: fresh apple cake with black walnuts. He ate one piece. Perhaps she knew on some level that he was dying. That January, he had heart surgery. He died 16 days later.

I relate that image to my work on the farm this year: I am attending to the health of a loved one: the farm. I focus on keeping its rhythms going in the midst of chaotic weather. I remember how my father's vital signs became erratic as he approached death with Alzheimer's disease. Finally, he could no longer regulate his own temperature. He died the next morning.

Imagine the farm as a living organism, said Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic agriculture. The farmer brings the farm to life and orchestrates how animals and plants work together in harmony. 

When I came to the farm eleven years ago, the land had been rented for years. I worked hard to improve the soil. I fixed fences, repaired buildings, planted trees, flowers and herbs. I tended animals. I sold produce, meat and eggs. I kept the words, beauty, bounty and balance as touchstones for my work. Two years ago, the farm's energy changed; it began to feel whole, to have its own unique presence, its own soul. Visitors felt it; I did too. Now this farm is one in a world-wide network of biodynamic farms that promotes a connection between forces of Heaven and Earth as erratic weather buffets the world.

This year, we have had sudden, strong strong storms, driving rain, and circling tornado-style winds. May was dry and hot; June the rainiest month on record. Storms came unexpectedly; predicted storms dissipated before they arrived.

In his book, Climate: Soul of the Earth, Dennis Klocek notes that the Greeks found the concepts of wind, breath, soul, air, vapor and vital principle all had an underlying commonality—they were all related. During the Middle Ages, he writes, the human soul was known as the “air body.” Likewise, the air, or atmosphere, was considered the soul body of the Earth. World-class gardener Alan Chadwick spoke of the importance of air to maintain health in humans and plants.

I check the weather channel often. In June, the forecasters predicted one severe storm after another. They did not reference the soul of the Earth, nor have I heard anyone connect weather as an expression of the Earth's soul with our own soul development. As I have worked in my garden this year, I have wondered: could they be related? What is the essential commonality?

Nature...surely takes our breath away; old breath, stale breath, leaving us full of fresh Air. Life is curved, moves in swirls. Wind and Water borne. We are children of Earth's Weather, ”writes Skye louise ann Taylor in her book, A Monk in the Beehive.

Perhaps we now can take some response ability for the soul of the Earth. I now tending the garden and the animals to maintain the farm's dynamic life force. I am working harder and getting less produce, but what is more important than the underlying rhythm of life itself​​? What are we without wind, breath, soul, air, vapor and vitality? Other farmers are using hydroponics, greenhouses and hoop houses to grow food under controlled conditions. They are growing food that feeds us physically. I now know that our souls are nourished when we grow and eat food that has a vital connection with the flow of energy into and out of the Earth.

Are we connecting with the life force that sustains the natural world? What can we do to right the imbalances that we have created in our culture and in our world? We must find our own soulful answers. Perhaps it is as simple as connecting with some aspect of Nature every day—a bird, a tree, a flower, vital food.

As we do our own soul's work, we may restore our climate: the soul of the Earth. 

Posted 7/8/2015 6:24pm by Sally Voris .

What a roller coaster ride this summer's weather has been!

This year, we are focused on teaching people skills to engage and involve their heads, hands and hearts in restoring health to the land , the natural world and each other. We want to empower people to move from consumer to creator--to learn skills to be more engaged with and aware of nature and her processes.

Educational Programs: We have scheduled programs for Saturday and Sunday evenings, with the farm open to the public until dark both of those evenings. Each week, we will focus on different plants and different homesteading skills.  

Into the Wild: On Saturday, July 11 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Jake Riley, a recent addition to the farm, will lead a tour focused on native plants and herbs. Then he will demonstrate how to make St.John's Wort oil. See the Calendar for more details. 

A Taste of the Farm: On Sunday, July 12, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Sally Voris will lead a tour of the garden, giving people a chance to pick samples of produce and to taste, touch, smell and feel various plants in the garden. This Sunday, she will demonstrate how to make a refreshing and nutritious fruit tonics using whey and fresh fruit, and then how to make a simple berry conserve. See the Calendar for more details.  

Family Day: This weekend, we will also host our first family day of the summer on Saturday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All are welcome. We have plenty of green beans, Swiss Chard, kale and beets to pick as well as red raspberries, and potatoes to dig. We have a host of farm animals--cows, geese, chickens, hogs, a dog, a cat and some very cute kittens. There is no charge to attend. The food will be for sale at reasonable prices. 

Sacred Women's Circle: My friend, Gwen Marable, continues to lead a seasonal women's circle. Our next circle will be held on Saturday, August 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All women in our larger circle are welcome. (RSVP.) We ask you to bring simple food for lunch and we suggest a donation of $25 for this work. Click here for more information. 

High Summer Feast: We will hold our traditional feast to honor Lammas, the feast of the first fruits, on Saturday, August 1. This year, we are keeping it simple. We invite you to come and help us prepare an amazing feast from the fresh food in the garden. Storyteller Walter Jones, Jr. will regale us with story and song. $15/person. Children under 12 free. 

Wonderful produce! Our produce was recently evaluated by a consultant. It now has the highest nutritive value--this is produce that feeds body, mind and spirit. We encourage you to try it--and if you know of people who have need for such quality--perhaps they are facing serious health concerns or are pregnant, please mention our food to them. We still have room in our CSA and we deliver to Westminster on Wednesday afternoons.

Farm membership:   Join the farm as a member (much as you would join the Y) and become part of our larger community. click here for more information. 

Thanks and happy summer! 

Sally Voris 



Sally Voris, White Rose Farm

www.whiterosefarm.com, 410-756-9303

Posted 7/6/2015 5:13pm by Sally Voris .

A group of four women came to the farm for the first time for our full moon gathering last Wednesday. One had grown up on a dairy farm; another had been introduced to canning and gardening by her mother-in-law. Another asked about snakes and poison ivy; the fourth openly professed to be a “City Girl.” We sat on the front porch, visited and ate a light meal. I shared a story about raspberry picking and invited them to come to the raspberry patch to pick their own berries.

We were all dressed casually for a stroll through the garden. I had on sandals, nice capri pants and a knit top. I was escorting them slowly to the red raspberry patch when I heard a hog grunting. I looked to my left and saw a hog trotting through the garden. Eight days earlier, this hog had run into the woods behind the barn.

My dog, a border collie with herding instincts,  was about 10 feet in front of me. If I could catch the dog before he caught sight of the hog, I thought. Then the dog saw the hog.He took off after him. The hog ran for the hedgerow. I ran after them, leaving the women behind.

We ran—the three of us, the dog, the hog and me—through a hedgerow filled with waist-high poison ivy, and halfway across a field of soybeans. I maneuvered to stay between the hog and the woods and the hog and the dog. Soon, we all stopped: the hog, the dog and me. So there I was, easily some 500 yards from my barn, a tired hog in front of me, a border collie at my side. What could I do? I called to my neighbor--her house was clearly in view—but she did not answer.

I picked up the little hog--was it forty or fifty pounds--held him in my arms like a baby and began walking across the field. I yelled at the dog and pushed him away with my leg. Did I have the strength to carry the hog back to the barn? I hoped so!  I carried him back through the hedgerow, managed to open the pigpen door with one hand, put the hog in a stall in the pen, and returned to the women.

The women stood wide-eyed, mouths agape. “You've got blood on your shirt!” one exclaimed. Blood on my shirt, mud on my good shoes, poison ivy all over my legs, and a hog in the barn.

I walked back to the women and again became a hostess. I showed them where the black raspberries were hiding. I led them to the gooseberries, the black and red currants. We returned to the porch. I shared how the hog had gotten away a week earlier. My helper had begun moving the hogs. Suddenly, the clouds got dark; strong gusts of wind blew. The hogs got excited. When one hog left the pen, my dog chased him down, and tore into his back. The hog got away and ran for the woods, through waist-high poison ivy. We let him go, unable to catch him. We assumed that the foxes would eat the wounded hog.

The women sat silent as I finished the story. Then they prepared to go home. I changed my clothes and called a friend to help care for the hog. “You are balanced and your farm is balanced,” said the woman who had grown up on the farm. “I just hope you have strength to manage.”

As they left, my friend arrived. We headed to the pig pen to care for the hog. His wound, now a week old and untreated,was deep and crawling with maggots. We wrapped him in wet towels to bring down his high fever.

When I returned to the farmhouse close to midnight, silvery moonlight bathed the garden. It had been an eventful evening. Later, I described the events to my neighbor, “That's farming!” she responded. Indeed, that is farming!  

Come for retreat!

Our garden season is ending and we now have more time to host retreats! Come for an overnight stay and enjoy the quiet of the country and great views of the stars!  

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