Step into Life at White Rose Farm!

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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, 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!  

Posted 6/16/2015 6:57am by Sally Voris .

This year, the mulberries are plentiful and sweet—and without the musky overtone that I found distasteful in years past. Paul Pitchford, in his book, Healing with Whole Foods, describes mulberries as fruit that were once “highly regarded as a general tonic for the whole system.” He writes that they build the yin fluids and blood, moisten the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract, strengthen the liver and kidneys. and treat wind conditions including vertigo and paralysis.

This year, I have picked quarts of them. I have made a mulberry punch and a mulberry tonic. Both delicious. A friend stopped by for a visit. She is making mulberry tapioca (using mulberries instead of cherries) to make a fruit dessert.

Here are my recipes for the punch and the tonic. (Please note that they are recipes from one homesteader, not a professional chef. The recipes have not been tested in a professional test kitchen--they are simply my sharing something that I have found delicious.):


Mulberry Punch

1 quart freshly-picked mulberries (best picked mid morning, firm and sweet)

1 quart water

½ cup sugar ( prefer raw sugar.)

1 sprig peppermint

Wash the mulberries, put in glass or stainless steel saucepan, add water to cover half the berries. Simmer gently until berries soften—5 minutes or so. Mash the berries and strain the juice. Reserve the berries. In the meantime, heat one quart of water and ½ cup sugar to a boil (until the sugar dissolves in the water.) Take off of heat and add one sprig of peppermint. Let cool. Blend the juice with the sugar water, chill and serve. 


Mulberry Tonic

My friend, Jon Lusby, taught me how to make fruit tonics one summer. He has now created Fermentation Creation and is selling fermentation kits at


Take the berries that were left from the mulberry punch recipe. Place them in the bottom of a clean half-gallon jar (Jon's kit work great!) Add ½ cup of sugar, ½ cup of whey (made from raw milk or good yogurt), and water to fill the jar almost to the top. Put on a lid with an airlock. Let sit 24 hours.

Strain the fruit out and bottle the liquid in Grolsch bottles. I had my first tonic after two days and it was delicious. After two weeks or so. It develops a slight effervescence. Again, it is delicious and nutritious.


Posted 6/16/2015 5:54am by Sally Voris .

For the last several weeks, I have gathered rose petals just after dawn. Then I make rose water using a recipe from Rose Recipes from Olden Times by Eleanor Sinclair Rodhe. One gathers the roses with dew on them, boils the petals and then lets the water sit in the sun “tyll it be readde.” I am learning so much about the delicate dance of life—and death—connection and release--through this process.

The recipe assumes ones knows roses--probably common knowledge in 1550 when the recipe was recorded. Those roses bloomed once in June with an intense fragrance that one does not find in the modern hybrid roses. As a young girl, I escaped from the battles and conflicts of the neighborhood boys and found myself under the large white rose in my neighbor's back yard. I was transported on the scent of the rose to a serene place of beauty. Perhaps that experience initiated my love of fragrant, old-fashioned roses. When I came to the farm, I began planting roses—many of them from Roses of Yesterday and Today. I now have roses in such profusion that I can make gallons of rose water.

The recipe also assumes one knows how to gather rose petals. An advisor suggested that I let the roses release their petals to me rather than taking them from the plant forcefully. It has become my morning meditation. Day is just dawning; birdsong fills the air. The rising sun often tinges feather-like clouds with shades of soft pastels. I approach each rose, noticing its fragrance, its color, its health, the form of the plant and its blossoms.

All roses seem to release their petals as the blossom fades, though each rose has its own distinctive pattern. I scan each plant for spent blossoms, put my fingers around the petals and gently pull. Sometimes, the petals release; sometimes not. Sometimes, I give another pull and they release; sometimes not. Sometimes, I pull and tear the petals, though that feels like a taking. More often now, I simply release the rose that is not ready to give and move on to the next rose. A clean release opens and fills me: I meet the rose and it gives me its gift.

Some roses seem capricious; some might say mysterious: one day they release their blossoms, the next day, they hold. Does it relate to the stars? The moon? A connection with their roots or some other unseen force? I do not know. At my best, I enter the present moment and allow that moment to unfold. It is an exquisite, intimate dance, as is so much of life—and death.

Yesterday, I made bouquets for a neighbor's wife. After eight years of suffering with Alzheimer's disease, she has stopped eating. She has stopped drinking. Her toes are turning blue; her body, long stiff, is becoming limp and loose. Perhaps for these long years, she and her devoted husband have clung to each other. Now, soon, there will be release. May it come cleanly, opening and filling the moment.

Flowers are teaching me to cultivate awareness and a sense of beauty. It is the gift I choose to give to my community, to my son, and to all of our grandchildren. My uncle loved the words to the classic hymn, “In the Garden.” Its words speak of intimate connection: “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses, And he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

How many of us take time to smell or gather roses? To know roses? To know each other? To cultivate awareness with nature? With God? That work is calling me. The sun is just rising, rose season is almost over and I must grab my basket and head for the garden. May you too find time for beauty as you start your day!


Posted 5/31/2015 2:09pm by Sally Voris .

Several of my friends have responded to my expression of the need for quiet with a comment about the world in transition. Consequently, I share this post with you: 

I am exploring starlight and finding deep space quiet.  I read A Monk in the Bee Hive, a Short Discourse on Bess, Monks and Sacred Geometry by Skye ann louise Taylor. She writes of the importance of starlight to feed our souls. We humans have bathed in starlight by night; sunlight by day for eons.  She adds that roots of the word, “consideration” mean “with the stars.”

The book nudged me into the night. As I did my evening chores in early May, I walked into clouds of fragrance—often surprisingly, unexpectedly—they perfumed the night air. I was intoxicated, fascinated: What flower was spreading that scent? I identified lilacs, apples, lilies of the valley, iris, and a fringe tree, a native that has a spicy sweetness. 

Inside the house, the air seemed stale and lifeless. I craved the liveliness of the out of doors! On an especially lovely evening, I pulled out the sleeping bag and pad I had tucked away years ago. I went to the center of the garden. I lit a fire, burned sage and said prayers. The air was clear; few bugs were present. I spread out the pad, the bag and a pillow on top of a picnic table. I wrapped a shawl around my head and climbed onto the table. My dog looked up at me and wagged his tail. “What are you doing? Can I come up with you?”  He asked. “No,” I answered and he lay down next to the table.

I nestled into the warmth of the bag, looked up and took a deep breath. I felt myself inside a dome of stars; I connected with the Universe above me, with the ground below me, and with the life all around me. It was incredibly enlivening.  

The next night, I set up the tent and slept inside it. I smelled tent. I decided to let the superfluous go: Give me the stars and the night air! One night, a cold front blew in: I felt the wind deep into my bag. Another night, I woke to drizzle falling gently, the clouds lowering. Last night, the dew sat heavy on the outside of the bag. I had tucked an extra blanket inside the sleeping bag to keep me warm.

On Friday, a friend visited from Long Island. She has recently had a hip replacement and was delighted to sleep in a warm bed. A biodynamic consultant, she has worked with the farm since 2005 to improve the quality of our produce. The food from the garden now has the highest nutritive quality, she reports.  She noted the potency of the flowers and herbs. The farm itself is healing, she concluded! 

Initiated by Rudolf Steiner in 1924, biodynamic agriculture cultivates connection between the Earth and the Universe.  At the Biodynamic Conference in 2014, Gunther Hauk explained that the food that we eat nourishes our nervous system. Then we are fed through our senses by the sights, sounds and fragrances that surround us. Perhaps that is what is feeding me so deeply at night.  

Before bedtime, we went to the picnic table. She lay down on the table; I lay on the bench next to it. We looked skyward. She too marveled at the sky—it was expansive, mysterious, and ordered! Then we saw a long-tailed shooting star streak across the sky. It was sheer magic!

The lines from this famous hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” capture the sense of awe that the night sky inspired in us: “Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds that Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the Universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great thou art, How great thou art.”

Consider the stars. Be with the stars. You may find the night sky as filling as I have. The farm is now hosting overnight guests.  We have inside accommodations and a long picnic table. Come explore!  

Posted 5/17/2015 3:25pm by Sally Voris .

Yesterday, Abby Porter presented an Introduction to Biodynamics at White Rose Farm. Participants were able to examine herbs used to make the biodynamic preparations: yarrow, dandelion, chamomile and valerian--all were in bud or blooming. Abby explained the preparations and their significance. She described how to get started doing biodynamics in one's own back yard. We strolled in the gardens and visited the new calf in the barn, the Guinea hogs in the field. A wonderful day! 



Posted 5/7/2015 7:53am by Sally Voris .

The hills are greening, flowers bloom; there is birdsong, nest making and gardens waiting for blessing. With the Maiden Earth in ovulation, creatures are enlivened, inclined to entwine! Warm-hearted, we stretch in the sun, walk barefoot in the new grass, bear the spring rains with good cheer and gratefulness. Passions stir-flashes of sweet desire, hot lightning of anger, gusts of giddiness, heartbreaks of grief and fits of unbearable joy. How to meet these relentless tremors? Dance!

In circles, growl and flirt, wail and strut and yip! Exaggerate feelings until laughter or tears claim you—and keep dancing. No matter the furies unleashed in the world, a circle of women dancing out passions is a potent alchemical mandala. Shakers sing it this way: “To turn, turn, will be our delight, til by turning, turning we come round right. “ Weaving in and around one another, we thread our passions in the web. Warp and woof, spokes and runners, take up your strands with clear intent. Weave what you want into being, into Life!

Marian Spadone from Mother Tongue Ink.


Posted 5/6/2015 9:21am by Sally Voris .

On Sunday, we celebrated May Day, an ancient festival that honors the fertility of the Earth. For the last ten years, three committed volunteers have spent hours setting up the May Pole and decorating the farm to make it festive with color for this event. This year, twenty other people joined us on a perfect spring day. They walked around the farm, taking in a feast of the senses. Some smelled the earth; others picked flowers. Several swung in the hammock, lazed in a chair or on the grass, or just chatted with each other as the fragrance of lilacs and the sound of music floated in the air.

“People feel free to do what they want here,” said an old friend as she surveyed the lawn and took a deep, easy breath. “I feel it every time I turn off the main road to come to the farm.”

People were touched and in touch with life. “Is that what an apple tree looks like?” said one guest. “I have never seen one in bloom before!” She was looking two full-sized apple trees, each thirty feet high and thirty feet wide, filled with clusters of white blossoms and abuzz with bees. My father had planted them fifty years ago.

Some stood in front of the lilac, marveling at its profusion of blossoms. Most walked down to the barn to see the cows and the new calf, the Guinea hogs, the Indian Runner ducks, the geese and the white cat in the barn. “Where did she come from?” Several asked. “She looks pregnant!” others noticed. “I want a kitten!” several exclaimed.

Mid-afternoon, we danced around the May Pole as the musicians played a Morris tune. We weaved long strands of pastel ribbons in and out, much as the invisible world of Spirit weaves life into form.

How do we honor the web of life that supports us and connects all things? How can we touch the Earth as a beloved and honor her exuberant fertility and the incredible mystery of creation? How do we value such an experience? How much does connection cost? How much is it worth? What is life without it?

On Wednesday morning, as I opened the door to the cow's stall, the door hit something faun-colored and lumpy on the floor. A new calf had just been born! I lifted her and carried her close to her mother. Then mother and grandmother licked her for an hour or more. They seemed to be licking her into life, calling cow spirit into physical form. “Come on, little one, come on into this Earth! Come on, little one, we are here for you!” They licked and licked. They were strong, insistent, cajoling, comforting. That first day, she stood on wobbly legs and nursed weakly. Each day, she has gained strength and vitality.

That evening, a golden moon rising, I led the frisky young heifer and her mother to the barn. They did not stay. They walked into the main pasture. The little one slipped under the fence and disappeared. Close to dark, I noticed that mother and grandmother were standing at the fence bawling. “Where is our baby? Where is our baby?” they communicated. I saw no calf.

I was exhausted. I searched for the calf along the fence line. I could not find her. So I took the mother, Buttercup, on a lead to find her calf. She let out a long, low moo. “I am here for you, little one. Moooo. I am here for you.” She led me into waist-high poison ivy and into the prickly needles of a cedar tree. I could go no further. Hiding beneath the cedar tree, was our little Daisy. Buttercup licked the young calf. Soon I was guiding the heifer in between my legs as I held the lead of the cow in one hand.

Life is so rich and so worth living at White Rose Farm. I am offering to share it. Come for a visit!


Posted 5/4/2015 6:08pm by Sally Voris .



The grass was so green; the ribbons so festive; the flowers so fragrant!

The music floated on the air as we danced around the May Pole

and savored a perfect spring day.  



Quiet time is starting....

Hazel is back! She is pregnant and due midwinter. Our thanks to Leah Mack, at whose farm Hazel and Daisy spent the summer with a virile bull.  Now we want to find Daisy, a pure-bred Jersey, a new home. She is pregnant and due mid-spring. Interested? Please contact me. Thanks. Sally    

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