Sunday, August 3, 2008

More about MaryJane Butters

I'll let MaryJane tell you how she became a "farmgirl" raising organic fruits and vegetables...and a whole lot more.

Five years ago, before the idea of MaryJanesFarm and my playful definition of “farmgirl” made the newspaper that Toni read, I was known as Paradise Farm, since my little five-acre piece of paradise was nestled at the base of Paradise Ridge. When I bought my piece of ground some 20 years ago, I dreamed of making my living as a farmer. My first season here, I sold green bell peppers, pickling cucumbers, and other odds and ends. But to make more money from my crops, I needed a longer growing season. So I built six hoophouses that I had to crawl into on my hands and knees. It was good training, because for the next 15 years, keeping my farm and making a living required lots of kneeling — the late night prayerful variety that builds mighty calluses on both kneecaps. During the Paradise Farm era, when my daughter was all of 7 years old and still letting me put her hair in two braids, she zenned me in a stunning way. A single mom living the homestead life, without indoor plumbing, without money, I drove a car so old we wore masks in it because it sucked dust in through the rusty floorboards (my son remembers getting his leg stuck in one of the holes), when late one evening coming home from town, the driveline fell off. It jammed into the ground like a javelin. Crying, I lifted my 3-year old from his seat and the three of us began to walk. My daughter grabbed my hand, “Momma, there’s always something good out of something bad.” With her words as my mantra, I survived the next decade by reinventing myself over and over again, growing this, growing that, trying this and trying that.

My mother had seen to it that I had a passion for feeding people, and my father had taught me how to grow absolutely anything. Given I’d worked for the Forest Service right out of high school, and I wanted to create a secure value-added market for other local farmers, I eventually ended up with a line of backpacking foods — the kind of foods I would have liked when I was backpacking as a wilderness ranger.

You'll hear more about her journey to make a living with her organic farm at the Lunch with Mary Jane Butters at the AQS Quilt Expo in Des Moines. She has experienced lessons we can all learn from in whatever we endeavor to do. Registration for this lunch is open on the our Web site, .

Are you a farmgirl? MaryJane definition of a farmgirl... is anyone who sews or knits or weaves (or wants to learn how). A farmgirl remembers her mother or grandmother paring apples for pie. A farmgirl believes in the strong arms of friendship, community and the just plain fun of being together.A farmgirl believes in connection. a farmgirl ...isn’t afraid to go it alone. A farmgirl takes joy in the quiet satisfaction of making things with her own hands. A farmgirl wants a world that is sane, and just, and clean, and is willing to do her part to make it so. A farmgirl doesn’t have to live on a farm. There’s a farmgirl in all of us. Farmgirl is a condition of the heart.

Learn more about MaryJane Butters on her Web site: .

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