Permaculture in Ukraine: Day 2

1/8/13

 

Sasha, Tania and Zhenya Xmas Day

Sasha, Tania and Zhenya Xmas Day

 

Lviv is an amazing city.  It is so much better than I ever expected.  It is a city of artists, foodies, and musicians.  It has a strong sense of history but is forward-looking. When I arrived at Lviv airport, Tatiana and her 11 year old daughter Zhenya were there to greet me.  Tatiana runs an organization in Lviv called “Nashe Yarmarok” that works on urban gardening and permaculture in the city.  There is so much love and playfulness in her family.  When I arrived at their home on the outskirts of Lvov, I was greeted by a turtle, a chincilla, a hamster, her 18 year old daughter Sasha, grandma, grandpa, and a Christmas dinner!
Tanya in her Urban Gardening Boutique "Nashe Yarmarok"

 

Tanya in her Urban Gardening Boutique “Nashe Yarmarok”

Tatiana’s family so full of love.  Her daughters are smart, musical, and constantly laughing.  She is constantly playing with her children.  Her daughters, while teenagers, are so open.  The people here are so down to earth.  It makes me feel better about my family.  Everybody is Ukraine is kind of like us- kind of messy, not fancy, but funny and generous,  and very much focused on enjoying delicious food.  I am so grateful for this experience, and for my family too : )

 

Euromaidan tent- just like OWS!

Euromaidan tent- just like OWS!

My family, like many Ukrainians, celebrates Christmas eve, “Sviat Vechir” on January 6th and Christmas day on January 7th.  I celebrated Sviat Vechir with my family on January 5th, flew out on Ukrainian Christmas eve, and arrived on Ukrainian Christmas day (Januar 7th).  The stores were closed but all of the people were on the streets, dressed in costumes and singing in Vertepy, traditional holiday troops that perform plays featuring kings, queens, angels, devils, and of course, the Virgin Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.  The performances range from serious to greatly humorous, with great variety.

 

Vertep at the Euromaidan

Vertep at the Euromaidan

After singing the Christmas carols I grew up with and eating a delicious meal, Iliya, another permaculture course participant from Belarus, met us at Tatiana’s apartment.  After eating again, we went out on the town to see Lviv at night.  We went to a big square where the Lvivska Maidan was camping out.  It was just like Occupy Wall Street, but better organized, it seemed.  There, people were also perfoming radical Vertepy, singing carols in costumes.  I saw a poster reading, “Ivan Franko stood with Europe- where do you stand?”  Fireworks were streaming through the air and people were singing on stages and on the cobblestone streets.

People Watching the Vertep Euromaidan

People Watching the Vertep Euromaidan

 

There were so many interesting works of art that we found, for example, a store called “Native Mind” where I found works of art and fashion that were cooler than anything I’d seen in Brooklyn- and cheaper too.  Great music!  We also visited an artist who was painting icons on the shingles of an old famous church- one for each day of the year.

Icons painted on old wooden church shingles

Icons painted on old wooden church shingles

 

Photo of the church the shingles came from

Photo of the church the shingles came from

 

Lviv is also a very delicious city.  We visited a boutique where people made their own hard candies by hand.  I’m not a fan of hard candy but this stuff was incredibly delicious!  We went to a chocolate factory with rivers of chocolate running through it, a coffee roasters, and finally, a strudel cafe.  I don’t like strudel, but I guess I’ve never had  fresh Ukrainian strudel.  I had mushroom strudel with garlic sauce.  Insanely good!

Strudel and Coffee- mmm!

Strudel and Coffee- mmm!

Then we came home.  I went to bed only to have them wake me up to eat more with them at around 1:00 in the morning.  This is a very food-oriented culture.  We’re on the road to the permaculture course now, with Iliya at the wheel, munching on second breakfast as we speak.  I’m on a real adventure, that’s for sure.  I will keep all of you posted.

 

Permaculture in Ukraine: Day 1

 

Lviv from my plane window!

Lviv from my plane window!

As a child, I came from a country that didn’t exist.  I grew up speaking a language that was exiled in its own homeland, singing songs that were silenced, shouting stories that could only be whispered.

My grandparents and father had immigrated here from Ukraine, then controlled by the soviet union.  The USSR’s “Russification” policies, intended to create a more unified soviet culture, had outlawed the use of the Ukrainian language in public, or in print.  The immigrants living in New York City and its environs had created a rich diaspora subculture that gave me a sense of pride and identity as a child.  At the time, we spoke only Ukrainian at home, and despite growing up in the US, I had actually been placed in an ESL pull-out program in elementary school to help me with my English.  When other kids were watching Saturday morning cartoons, I was dragged to Ukrainian school at St. George’s in the Lower East Side every Saturday, where I learned about the history, music, art, and literature of Ukraine in my family’s native tongue.  I learned wilderness survival skills and folk songs through the Plast Ukrainian Scouting organization.  I sang a full Ukrainian mass every Sunday at St. Peter and Paul’s Ukrainian Catholic church, a working class parish in Spring Valley, New York, and learned Ukrainian folk dancing in their church hall on Fridays.  The message in all of these cultural institutions was hopeful and nationalistic: that someday, Ukraine would be free.  That we were keeping the language and culture alive in the United States in order to preserve it for when Ukraine gained its independence.

I remember in 1992, when Ukraine finally gained its independence.  My 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Barnes, invited me to come up to the front of class and draw Ukraine on to the map for the very first time.  The shape of the state was generally accurate, but I drew it two sizes too big, a reflection of my pride in a country that was so much a part of my identity, but had never actually been to.  She didn’t make me fix it.

The new Ukrainian immigrants began trickling in.  When the new girls from Ukraine came to New York and started attending Ukrainian school, we ABU (American Born Ukrainians) were so excited to meet them- only to discover that they spoke Russian.  The children of the diaspora and the new immigrant youth struggled to understand each other, both linguistically and culturally.  I remember conflicts between the new, less-privileged, Russian-speaking Ukrainian girls  and the American-born Ukies, particularly around sharing, fashion, and inclusion.  For the first time, it occurred to me that the idealized version of Ukraine that our teachers at St George’s had described to us may not actually be what it seemed.

The Orange Revolution and the Euromaidan protests are recent manifestations of Ukraine’s continuing struggle to define her cultural and political identity.   This trip is a venture into defining mine.  I’d made a list two years ago of 3 things I wanted to do before I turned 30.  I wanted to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time, spend more time with the people I love, and I wanted to finally visit Ukraine.  Today I embark on the journey to reconcile the Ukraine in my imagination with her social, political, and economic reality- however harsh it may be.

Right now, I’m writing from Gate 24 of the Warsaw airport, on my way to a 7-day intensive advanced Permaculture Teacher Training Course in the Carpathian mountains of Ukraine, the very region that my family came from. This course will provide me with a certification that will allow me to officially teach permaculture design out of Crow Forest Farm in Blacksburg, VA.   Run by the NGO “Permaculture in Ukraine,”

my participation in the course subsidizes Ukrainian citizens’ tuition in the course, allowing Ukrainians to learn about permaculture design.  The course is being taught by George Sobol, a British permaculture designer who has started several permaculture institutes in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus and Moldova.   The course will be taught bilingually in English and Ukrainian, which will be fascinating for me as a linguist /second language educator as well.  I hope to share some of these experiences with the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute and Office for International Research and Economic Development to discuss how a second language can be refreshed and/or taught through sustainability content.  Well, I’m off to catch my flight.  I’ll update you all soon : )

Sustainable Hunting: The Art of Artemis

I went hunting for the first time in my life and bagged a squirrel with a good clean shot!  I really enjoy hunting and hope to continue to learn and grow in harmony with my food chain and ecosystem.

I went hunting for the first time in my life and bagged a squirrel with a good clean shot! I really enjoy hunting and hope to continue to learn and grow in harmony with my food chain and ecosystem.

Yesterday, I went hunting for the very first time!  It was exhilerating and beautiful : ) and definitely aligned with the principals of permaculture.

My friend Jon Arthur Esquire (Former USMC) asked if he could hunt on my land, and in exchange I asked if he could teach me how to hunt in the process.  As a food justice activist I had always been curious to learn. What better way to acquire local, free-range, organic protein?  A deer, squirrel or turkey leads a happy free life in its natural habitat, eating a healthy diet, and (if you’re a good shot) dies quickly.  I was fortunate to bag a squirrel on my very first hunting trip.  It was a spiritual and empowering experience. Here are the details…

~~~

At around 8:00 in the morning, Jon taught me all about gun safety and we did some target shooting with a variety of firearms.  In the end, my weapon of choice was a 22 caliber rifle, mainly because it was lighter that the 12 gauge and didn’t have much kick-back.  I found out later that it is actually a common choice for beginners.

After about an hour of gun safety and target practice, we stalked out cautiously into the woods, walking heel to toe in order to stay quiet.  Jon showed me how to find squirrel nests, how to observe for movement out of the corner of my eye.  We found a patch of ferns overlooking a grove of beech nut trees where we’d spotted two squirrel nests.

The best part of hunting was actually sitting calmly in the cold morning air, listening and watching intently.  It felt like a meditation, or mindfulness.  After about an hour of sitting in the cold, he told me to sit out there as long as I liked.  At this point, we hadn’t seen anything, and my toes were getting cold.  But I didn’t want to give up quite yet.

~~~

Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt.

Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt.

About 20 minutes later, right when I was about to quit, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.  It was a squirrel!  This was the first time I appreciated the power of the squirrel’s camouflage.  Their fur really is the same color as tree trunks in winter sunshine, and I kept on losing the squirrel in my sight.  When I felt I had a good clean shot, I pulled the trigger.  *Click* I’d left the safety on, and at this point the squirrel had wound back around the tree.  I knew that I just needed to be patient, and it would have to come around again.

I don’t know how long it was before the squirrel came halfway around the tree and perched itself on a whorl.  When I had it in my sights, I pulled the trigger and missed.  But the squirrel just froze, as if it was waiting to give me a second chance.  Like he was giving his life to me.  I took a second shot, and the squirrel pitched over and fell.

I couldn’t believe it.  I had never been good at any kind of sport, ever.  I can’t even throw a softball.  I ran out in disbelief to find the squirrel, still warm, calmly lying among some branches.  I said a prayer instinctively, grateful to the squirrel and the universe for offering me this squirrel’s life.

When I walked back up to the house, Jon Arthur was talking with Seneca.  “Did you get anything?” He asked rhetorically.

“I did.”  I said, my voice reflecting my own shock.  I unwrapped the shroud I had made for the squirrel out of the bright orange safety vest I had been wearing.

“Wow Christina.  That is awesome! Now let’s show you how to clean it.”

We took the squirrel out to the barn, and put it on a piece of cardboard to catch the blood and entrails.  We would later burn it.

Jon showed me how to make an incision across the squirrel and then peel the skin off with our fingers.  I’m not as used to ripping flesh apart with my bare hands as Jon was, so I resorted to using an exacto knife at times.  Jon showed me that I had actually made a very clean shot- right through the heart and lungs.  He reassured me that the squirrel had died nearly instantly and painlessly.

After we cleaned the squirrel, we went back out to the tree where I had shot it and buried the head, tail and other fur.  We said a prayer.  Jon is Lakota, and showed me how to sprinkle tobacco to the four directions in gratitude to the squirrel people for giving their life so we could eat.

~~~

After cleaning the squirrel, I said a prayer and mindfully created a squirrel stew on my woodburning stove to share with my friends.

After cleaning the squirrel, I said a prayer and mindfully created a squirrel stew on my woodburning stove to share with my friends.

After Jon left, I decided to light the sauna to cleanse after my kill.  While the sauna was warming up, I prepared the squirrel as a stew in a cast-iron dutch oven on my woodburning stove.  I added water, malbec, bay leaf, celery, carrot, parsnip. onion, potato and cabbage.  I made a rue of goat butter, tapioca starch, fresh garlic and thyme.

Strangely enough, I think my kill made me a more compassionate and aware person.  There is a cat near my house named Tadpole that is very sick.  Every other day, Starflower comes to feed him and take care of him, along with all of the other stray cats in our sanctuary.  He had gone missing during the ice storm and I was excited to see him!  He looked especially hard up that morning, and I brought him some warm cat food from inside the house, and set it up for him near some couch cushions in the sun.  I didn’t want him to suffer.  I sent a photo of him to Starflower that he was still okay, even after the storm.

After I had prepared the stew, I walked out to the sauna to see an old woman in a Babushka standing beside it.  There were two other people trying to get their car out of the mud from the tree of heaven.

“Christina?”  The old woman asked.

I nodded, wondering who she was.

“I’m Arwen.  I’ve heard so much about you…”  She hugged me and held me by the shoulders “Let me have a look at you.”

It turns out that she was Tadpole’s original owner.  That when Starflower told her that he had disappeared in the storm, she had waited until the roads were safe to get her friends to drive her out here.  She thought he was gone, and was so delighted to see that he was still here, and taken care of, and had a warm house to sleep in in the barn.

“I’m Ukrainian” She surprised me.  “Ne- odna- mova-pamyatayu” she spoke in a broken tongue.

“Speak to me in Ukrainian,” she said, “I’ve forgotten what it sounds like.”

I didn’t know what to say.  I wanted to sing.

~  ~   ~

The conversation that ensued is for only me to remember.  What it assures me is that this is a benevolent, interconnected universe, and that everything happens for a reason.  That death, and compassion, and resurrection happened today.  I know I am in the right place, and that I will continue to do great things during my time here at Crow Forest.

 

 

 

Winter Gardening in Progress

Our winter garden space in progress

Our winter garden space in progress

We had an amazing, beautiful and busy weekend at Crow Forest Farm!

Seneca led us in a project where we created raised beds out of stacked stones that we then covered with old windows.  We are already sprouting radishes, lettuce, and onions under glass.  We are arranging the cold beds in a spiraling fern pattern a la the golden ratio.  We’ll see how the flow works.

Drew can dig it!

Drew can dig it!

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We also dug out some beds that are sunk in the ground.  As you can see, we are putting pop-up cold-houses on top.  That way, we can walk in and stand up fully, and plants have more room to grow tall over the winter.

Jon and Seneca moving buckets of dirt among our felled trees of heaven.

Jon and Seneca moving buckets of dirt among our felled trees of heaven.

We chopped down a bunch of tree of heaven with machetes.  Tree of Heaven is an invasive plant that sends out juglone hormones that prevent other plants from growing.  We are chopping them down for firewood, digging out the roots, and building hugulkultur finger beds around the perimeter of the fenced area.  Our hope is to rehabilitate the space.  We will transplant a bunch of our horseradish to the new space, and hopefully it will be high enough above the juglones to thrive.

D&D, Apple brandy, and a showing of "River of Dread" around the campfire to celebrate our hard work : )

D&D, Apple brandy, and a showing of “River of Dread” around the campfire to celebrate our hard work : )

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We finished off the day with some Dungeons and Dragons, Apple Brandy hot toddies, and a showing of Seneca and Patrick’s independent masterpiece, “River of Dread.”  We stayed warm around the fire until it was sauna-time. Pretty nice life, if you ask me : )

I am very grateful for the creative, hard-woring friends in my life. Thanks to Seneca, Jon, Drew and Patrick for your hard work this weekend!  Please come again!

 

 

Korean Medicine and Food Foraging at Crow Forest Farm

It’s been a busy week, (busy with fun and beautiful things) so I apologize for the delay in posting.  Last weekend, my friends Roy and KD came to visit.  They just moved to Chapel Hill, NC from Maryland, but they are originally from Korea.  KD is a certified acupuncturist and Eastern Healer, and Roy has a lot of knowledge about Korean farmers that he is now extending to Permaculture.  We had an amazingly fun time!!!

Roy and KD brought us Jerusalem Artichokes (aka Sunchokes), which we planted by the CFF entrance.  Hoepfully, visitors will be regaled with tall yellow flowers when they first enter the property.  In Korean, Jerusalem Artichokes are called “pig potatoes” because these creatures will find them and dig them up.  We’ll see if any critters try to uproot our Sunchokes.

Roy & KD planting Jerusalem Artichokes at CFF
Roy & KD planting Jerusalem Artichokes at CFF

We hiked around the property and discovered that there are many medicinal plants growing at Crow Forest Farm.  We may have discovered a new guild: to-bok-ryoung (Rhizoma similacis) growing up a paw paw tree and paw paw trees!  Apparently, to-bok-ryoung is used as a detoxiying and chelating agent.  It is winding all up and down our paw paw trees.  Could we be on to something?

Rhizoma Smilacis growing up a paw paw tree

Rhizoma Smilacis growing up a paw paw tree

Roy and KD also informed me of many wild delicacies growing right under our feet.  We assembled a delicious meal of foraged salad, Jap Che (Korean Sweet Potato noodles), fermented mulberry sauce, chicken soup and home-baked bread.    We are discussing having a food foraging/Korean medicine workshop at CFF in the Spring.  Deep warm thanks to Roy and KD– Please come visit again!!!!

A delicious meal!  Jap Che (Korean Sweet Potato noodles), fermented mulberry, mung bean pancakes, chicken soup and fresh-baked bread... don't forget the foraged sorrel and sunchoke salad!

A delicious meal! Jap Che (Korean Sweet Potato noodles), fermented mulberry, mung bean pancakes, chicken soup and fresh-baked bread… don’t forget the foraged sorrel and sunchoke salad!

Leaves, Roots, and Fruits: Semillas Libres Preserves Seeds and Cultural Heritage for Food Autonomy

This weekend, I attended the We Are All Farmers Permaculture Design Weekend http://weareallfarmers.org

As always, this was an inspirational gathering of people from all of the Southeast committed to care of the Earth, care of people, and the return of surplus to all.

The weekend included an aquaponics and water management workshop by Brian Koser, a presentation about soils and tropical permaculture live from Dave Edelstein in Ecuador, and a brainstorming session on climatic factors with Edward Marshall.

WAAF Permaculture Design Course Participants conference live with Valentina Vives and Coloro Magana of Semillas Libres, a South American organization focused on saving seeds as an act of food autonomy and cultural preservation.

WAAF Permaculture Design Course Participants conference live with Valentina Vives and Coloro Magana of Semillas Libres, a South American organization focused on saving seeds as an act of food autonomy and cultural preservation.

However, the highlight of the weekend was a Skyped-in conference call with Valentina Vives and Coloro Magaña from a seed-saving social and political movement called Semillas Libres that is currently percolating through Chile, Ecuador and Peru.  This organization of seed savers, communicators, and defenders is recognizes each seed as a sacred medium carrying genetic, cultural, and spiritual memory.  According to a a United Nations Food and Agriculture Report of 2012, 75% of seeds have been lost in the past century, mostly due to the industrialization of agriculture during the so-called “Green Revolution” of the 1970s.  Throughout Latin America, the divide between campesinos raising heirloom seeds in accordance with their rich Mayan heritage is in stark contrast with the structural adjustment policies that promote the purchase and cultivation of hybrid and GMO seeds for the purpose of producing large-scale commodities.  As Coloro poignantly observed, “Modern agriculture is designed to make money, not food.”  Indeed, by cultivating a agro-ecological polyculture in accordance with each culture’s heritage is more resilient and resistant to social, political, and climatic change.  They hope to preserve seeds for the use of communities throughout the world, and protect the cultural and genetic heritage from multinational corporations that hope to privatize the genetic information in seeds.

Semillas libres is focused on supporting Americans (both Northern and Southern Varieties) in the creation of their own ex-situ and in-situ seed banks.  This “cross pollination:” of ideas was conducted mostly in broken Spanish and English as a second language, so there may be some details missing.  But here is a simplified list of steps for creating your own seed-bank:

CREATE YOUR OWN SEED-BANK

1. Open your heart

Saving seeds is about unity, and saving life from the cosmos.  Seed freedom is about human liberation.

2. Select the plant

Every seed matters, you do not only need to focus on local or endangered varieties.  Choose characteristics you like, such as early or late varieties, those that have a good size, flavor, or that thrive in atypical conditions.

3. Collect the seeds

Seeds must be collected before 10:00 am.  You should collect the whole plant, including the roots, and hang it upside down in a dark, dry place.  Try to dry off any dew or condensation.

4. Clean and dry your specimen

Remove the seeds from your plant, assuring that there is no organic material attached to the seeds.  You can test which seeds are viable by putting them in a bowl of water.  The seeds that float to the top of your bowl should be discarded, while the seeds that sink are alive and should be dried and stored.

5. Dry the seeds

You can dry seeds over a fire or dehydrator, as long as the seeds are not heated above 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees celcius.)  The seeds can be placed in a paper bag while drying.  The seeds should be so dry that they cannot break under pressure.

6. Classify your seeds

Using a notebook as a register, keep a record of your seeds and label them with a “seed passport.”  The passport should include the seed variety, the qualities of the plant, the conditions under which it was grown and harvested, the dates it was sown, the date it bloomed, the date it was harvested, and the date the seeds were collected.  The passport should include both the scientific name and any common names that the plant goes by, as the common names reflect the cultural significance and applications of the plant itself.

7. Conduct a germination test

Get a plastic ziploc bag and poke it with pin holes.  Put a moist paper towel and 10 seeds inside.  Then, record the number of seeds that germinate and calculate it into a percent.  This will be your specimen’s germination rate.  This is good information to add to your seed passport.  The more information you have on the passport, the better.

8.  Store your seeds

Keep you seeds in a cool, dark place that is between 45-75 degrees Fahrenheit (5-20 degrees Celsius).  Store your seeds in paper bags inside of glass or plastic jars with airtight lids.  Do not save seeds in metal containers.

9. Share your seed

Do not be greedy or anxious about your seeds.  As Valentina noted, “You can not have a sustainable culture all by yourself.”  A seed bank is meant to be a place to share seeds, not to hoard them.  It is better to have multiple people in your community with access to seeds in a decentralized fashion that you can then share in common in times of need.

10. Plant your seed

Seeds should only really be stored for a maximum of 2 years before they are planted again.  Planting your seeds keeps them genetically active and viable.  Collected, storing, and sharing seeds is good practice for a sustainable and caring society.

Great thanks to Valentina Vives, Color Magaña, and Crystal Allen-Cooke for organizing this incredible exchange of ideas and information.  We all look forward to coordination with Semillas Libres and hopefully meeting in person in the near future.

For more information about Semillas Libres, please visit their websites at:

http://www.redsemillaslibres.org

http://semillaslibres.cl

 

Raspberries!

Crow Forest Farm is in a cooler microclimate than the rest of Blacksburg.  This means that we have certain fruits later than everybody else.  For example, I harvested a pound of  raspberries this morning.  The cute dog in the photo is Huxley, my friend Seneca’s 1-year old puppy. I put the raspberries into two piles:  The pile on the left is firm and fresh, and will be used in jam, the pile to the right were mushy already: I’ll be letting these continue to ferment in a bottle into a raspberry vinaigrette.

I’ll be at the We Are All Farmers permaculture institute at Union Grove, NC this weekend.  Hopefully I’ll have some cool new stuff to report after the weekend : )Huxley harvests raspberries

What is Crow Forest Farm?

I am currently living on 8 acres of land on the edge of national forest.  I live in a purple octogonal house with a wood burning stove.  My home is only 1.6 miles from where I work, so I can bicycle there easily.

The property is covered with apple, pear, paw paw, chestnut, persimmon, mulberry, and walnut trees.  There are also many wild perenials, including asparagus, horseradish, sorrel, ground-cherries, creeping charlie, onion grass, and mallow. Every day, I go outside and forage something new.  I’ve been experimenting with harvesting and cooking with wild foods.  I realized that I was doing so much cool culinary stuff that I should post it short-and-sweet on a regular basis.

The property also has several sheds, and two outbuildings that I rent out.  The property also has a sauna, a hot tub that needs to be fixed, and a small creek running along the edge of the property.

When I was uncertain if I had made the right decision re: leaving NYC, this place dropped in my lap.  It was a sign from the universe that I was on the right path.  My Mom pointed out to me that, when I was a child, I had designed a round house in shop class.  Indeed, Crow Forest Farm is everything I’ve ever dreamed.  My hope is to make this space a permaculture institute, particularly for international students and youth.

Every morning, a black crow wakes me up at my window.  The land named itself.  Crow Forest Farm: dreams are truly possible if you have an open heart.

Crisp storage pears

Crisp storage pears

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We have a nice grove of paw paw trees in our forest : )

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What happened to Christina?

Miracles can and really do happen.  Everything happens for a reason, and for the best.

Here is a brief synopsis:

Four months ago, I agreed to take a summer job at the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute, thanks to a tip from my good friend Crystal.  I was originally planning on returning to New York.  However, a series of vivid dreams indicated that it was time for me to embark on a new journey.  At the age of 30, I decided to walk away from everything I had known and built in NYC.  I discovered that I needed to let go of my past in order to have my hands open to receive the future.

Within two weeks I had been offered a full-time job at Virginia Tech, was in the newspaper for singing with the Senator, had been accepted into a bluegrass band and had found the home of my dreams.

I am at a stage in my life where I am focusing on being my own boss and working on my own projects.  I’m in the process of starting my own business while writing my book about intersection of literacy, sustainable development, and permaculture.  Most importantly, I am happy and have the space to forage in the woods and blossom into my true self.

These are my adventures.  I will try to keep them short and sweet.  Thank you for checking in.Crow Forest Farm Photos