By: Korie Marshall
To the owners of Twin Meadows Organics Farm, I find what you’ve done with your website to be both thought provoking and encouraging. It seems you are successfully growing and selling your products, and sharing your knowledge with those who are best able to absorb it. It makes me – wistfull, I think is the word I am looking for – that I am not there yet.
I agree that non-participation in a broken system is a powerful way to protest, though it is not a quick way. It’s like water wearing away rock; I think it is the real power of things, but many of us – probably most of us – are stuck in a number of broken systems. Entangling yourself is a very personal journey, an no one’s is the same as someone else’s. Seeing a tangible result of your journey – your choice to simplify your website, and I imagine, to simplify your life a bit as well – is a powerful statement about your family’s choices and path.
The Lowes, owners of Twin Meadows Organics, are not the only ones going through this cycle. I’ve been following a blog by a woman in Seattle who homesteads on an urban lot that can’t be more than a quarter of an acre. In her blogs, she readily admits she is almost fanatical about sustaining her family, not shopping at Walmart (though she is perfectly fine with Costco), and helping others who have specific questions about how to do things properly and economically. She has gardens, greenhouses (including one on her roof), a small orchard, a chicken coop and run, ducks and a duck pond, something she calls a “food forest”, and a solar power system they’ve just installed. She writes about all of these things, and the struggles and challenges she’s come up against. She also writes about canning and preserving, she shares recipes, shares her stories of dealing with a child who won’t sleep, her struggles with the “internet trolls” who attack her via anonymous email accounts, and she admits the challenge she gave to her readers to eat from their larder for a month was much more difficult than she thought it would be – but for reasons she didn’t expect. In my mind, she is honest and authentic, clearly very driven to do what she sets out to do, and all I know of her is what she writes on the internet – an irony not lost on either me or her.
Twin Meadows Organics Farm used to have a lot of information on their website, and now they have decided to greatly simplify it. They have reduced it to basically one page, “a statement that reflects our belief that what is most needed is the practical living by small families of simple, practical and authentic sustainable living methods and models.” It says the internet and social media are overloaded with information, with little knowledge or acceptance that sustainability is a personal life style choice, not simply a topic for discussion. I agree, and I applaud them for making their own choice, one that clearly fits their philosophy and interests.
But I somewhat disagree, because although the internet is overloaded with information, deciding which is good information is always difficult. Another reality is that the internet can be a way for people to connect and share useful information. That is sometimes not possible in person, for one reason or another – maybe you are on the other side of the country, or maybe you feel trapped by mortgages, jobs, other things you’ve already accumulated or committed to.
Some of the questions that the lady in Seattle seems to respond a lot to are – how do you start? How do you start a garden, where do you look for seeds or advise, is installing solar panels worth it, how do I cook with and use up all those jars of beets I made last year? This lady clearly has a lot of energy to be able to do what she does around her house and yard and to then write about it and help people she has never met – oh yeah, and she has two young children.
What she does is clearly not a good fit for everyone. Honestly, I would continue reading her blog even if I never intended to garden or to learn more sustainable practices, because she is an engaging writer, and a very open storyteller. She is always trying something new, something she’ll do both internet and real-life research on, and then very candidly share the results. That is not something we are all especially suited for.
Neither can we make the same choices she does – we’re not all in her situation, nor are we all in the Lowe’s situation. I think we can learn from both philosophies and practices, and I deeply appreciate that both options are out there. We all have to make our own choices, and hopefully we have access to people that can help.