On Wednesday I got my hands dirty at the farm and was treated to an in-depth tour of all the hidden crevices that provide Rachel Meeker, owner of Wanderlust Wildcraft with the tools of her trade. Rachel's passion project of folk artist & educator, was clearly evident as we meandered around the farm.
But first I was given my farming task from Scout, who runs the produce for the CSA boxes. She is an amazing young woman who is completing her degree in Permaculture. Permaculture is intended as a contraction of permanent and agriculture. It is a holistic, living-in-harmony-with-nature worldview, as well as a technical approach for how to do so. I wish I would have taken a picture of Scout but honestly, she never stops. She gave me my assignment which was to harvest 58 fennel bulbs for the CSA subscriptions. I was really excited about this job. I brought my gloves but noticed that Scout didn't have any on so I quickly tossed mine aside so I could "do as the Romans do." After I harvested, cleaned, and stored the fennel, Scout gave me another crop to harvest, kohlrabi. Now, this was a little more involved. You pull this right out from the ground root and all. The roots on these spaceship looking vegetables are really tough. The first few I just ripped out and brought back to the washing station with a huge ball of roots and dirt. I then thought about the beautiful principles of biodynamic and permaculture farming and I worried that I had upset the delicate balance of organisms in the soil. In the next batch, I used some gardening scissors and cut the rootstock and left it in the row along with the soil. I hope the little soil army appreciated my salute to their hard work. Soon I had all 58 picked, cleaned, and stored. Did I mention that I was exhausted? Farming is HARD work. Kudos to the Dare 2 Dream Farm crew for doing this week after week so we could have a beautiful box of veggies. I will not complain about how labor-intensive fava beans are to eat in the kitchen.
Next, I met up with Rachel Meeker, the heart and soul of Wanderlust Wildcraft. If you have been out to the farm stand you can see her wildcraft on display. She uses local products, the majority harvested from the farm to craft balms, salves, soaps, and other products. Every product she makes has a purpose. Her passion for and knowledge of folk practices is inspiring and overwhelming. She took me on a historical journey sharing her insight on the plants (weeds) all around the farm, pointing out the benefits of each one. My favorite was the Calendula flower. She was drying a whole lot in the "greenhouse," a space attached to the farm's kitchen. She will patiently wait a few more days to manually dry the flowers and then begin crafting her products. Rachel is also in charge of the cottage food production for Dare 2 Dream Farms, producing all of the jams, jellies, loaves of bread, and other handcrafted treats that are sold in the farm CSA and Farm Stand. In addition to all of this, Rachel's real passion is education. Pre-COVID she was presenting classes on the wildcrafting. She hopes to get back to it soon because she wants others to have these skills in order to maintain some time-honored, but evaporating skills.
This was the view from the top of the property, looking down into a grove of old oaks. It was spectacular and I cannot wait for my next session with Rachel. If you want more information on what Rachel does visit her website, https://www.wanderlustwildcraft.com