The Family Farm: This Week’s Final Film


The trailer here points the way for more of what you’ll see–and afterwards, discuss at the Floyd Country Store, perhaps after sharing a pot-luck dinner staring at 6:30. Highly recommended.

Take a look at this month’s SustainFloyd Newsletter, or skip straight to this Sustainfloyd Family Album 2 minute slide show of people, places and events in the Floyd community during 2015.

Newsletter for December 2015

SustainFloyd Family Album Slide Show

The Ecology of Well-being

Still debriefing from our trip to Missouri and back a short while ago, I have dug out another image from the road.

The background was shot from the passenger’s side, going Ann’s interstate speed (which is considerably faster than Fred’s) and I marvel at what turned out to be an image with remarkable crispness and freedom from blur. [click to enlarge]

The iPhone 6s Plus is turning out to be a very good camera indeed. And I once used it for a call!

The second take-away from this annotated image with text added by the app Typorama (and their watermark Photoshopped away) is my choice of words. We were 500 miles from home.  I can’t say what I was thinking at the time.

But the landscape in the image is home to somebodies who feel a connection to this vast, flat glacially-smoothed landscape in the same way I am bonded to the corrugated ridges and valleys of my home ground.

Sense of place: part of the ecology of well-being, and this, a topic upon which I hope to elaborate. We have students coming for a week in Floyd in March, and this concept might be a useful theme by which to discuss the relationship between riches in dollars and riches in relationships.  But I digress. (Imagine!)

The Buck Stops Here


You’ll note that I have protected the anonymity of the hunter as well as taking the precautionary measure of doing the same to the deer, so as to avoid any legal actions by relatives of the deceased.

I can count on the fingers of one hand then number of times we’ve been surprised by another human voice on our trails. Then, generally, it’s a predictable neighbor who has a long tradition of using the “New Road” down from his end of Goose Creek Gorge to access Goose Creek Run for the next leg of his hike with his apprentices and friends from his goat farm up top.

So on Saturday afternoon when I hushed Ann suddenly to listen to what I would swear was someone talking, the inner alarms when up–the intruder response, I guess–and so I was not terribly welcoming when a stranger came towards us, dressed in camouflage. The dogs didn’t even bark at him, worthless watchdogs that don’t watch.

He began telling us why he was on our land. He owns the adjacent parcel and was in his deer stand with his black powder muzzle loader when he shot a large buck. Even though the shot most likely pierced the heart, the animal had not gone down. This fella had eventually found and followed the blood trail, and the eight-pointer had suffered what was a longer death than a hunter would want for their prey.

Then he faced a real quandry: the animal had covered so much distance he didn’t know how he would get the 150 pound animal back up the mountain to his vehicle. He apologized repeatedly for his trespass, torn between honoring boundaries and following through with the responsible duties to retrieve, clean and dress a lot of venison on a warm November afternoon.

“Say, I think you’re the one who almost shot me from a tree stand a few years back” I told the man, who identified himself, and I knew I was right.

“I was thinking about that earlier today” he said, “remembering how bad that scared me. It’s the only time I ever had a man’s head in my sights. I heard something coming over the ridge and was ready for a deer–but not a man!”

We’d had some words, and he wanted me to know that, if he seemed hostile it was only that he’d been scared considerably by what might have happened if he’d been, like some hunters, prone to shoot at anything that moves there just before dark.

Long story short, while he drug the carcass down to the edge of the pasture, I went for my truck. The two of us could barely lift the creature into the bed. His deer stand was 150 higher and at least a quarter mile from us. He’d need to get to his mom’s house where his truck was parked to hike back to pick up his gear, then truck the deer to the butcher in Pilot.

So we had a conversation on the way, and I got to drive into a very secluded spot I’d often seen on Google Earth some 6 miles by car from where we loaded the deer. I got to meet some of the hunter’s family and extend the range of my rambles across these mountains.

And it was good to clear the air from that incident ten years ago where adrenalin did way too much of the talking. He gave the meat to a friend in need. And we both got a new neighbor in the bargain.

Business With Pleasure: Storytelling With Purpose

Nola Albert tells her story to Jonathan Kingston, 2009
Nola Albert tells her story to Jonathan Kingston, 2009

So several things are or will soon be taking more of my attention, even while the impulse to share by way of this irrelevant blog keeps begging for some share of my attention and I cannot refuse it.

First, the new notion and intention to tell the personal stories behind the vendors and farmers and volunteers and members of SustainFloyd. This is a developing “working group” in whose future elaboration I am involved, as it has sort of fallen into my lap in a more or less natural way, me being the village idiot with the most words already out there.

Look for more soon on this new twig off the branch of the hopes and mission of SustainFloyd that is also the message of other groups of folks in our community working towards a life in community in balance with the soil and water, field and forest.

Second, I suppose in this story would be the history of how SustainFloyd’s Farm to School program came about concurrently with the local high school’s ag program that was looking for a place to create a “school farm.”

The third leg of the stool would tell (again) about my getting to know two people: Jonathan Kingston and Nola Albert that are pictured here, and how those good memories connect to my day tomorrow at Nola’s.

And this picture-story would come back around to the current day–well, tomorrow actually–when I am obliged to go take stills an videos of three classes from three Floyd County schools who will be going to Nola’s place near Canning Factory Road to dig the potatoes they will have for lunch next week.

I’m sad to say Nola will not get to witness this event out her back door. But those eager young people will benefit from her legacy through the conservation easement she left. Her generosity and foresight has made available that rich bottom land along Howell Creek where student-planted potatoes are now ready and waiting for young hands to grub out of the ground.

My intention of the moment is to tell this tale–here, of course; with pictures, of course. And if I don’t put legs on this narrative in the next week, I’ve at least enjoyed cobbling it together in my mind this morning. Made me smile.

Earth Day on Floyd Time

Yes, the official Earth Day was Wednesday, April 22. We’re just being very intentional and making the day accessible to working parents and their children, farmers and out-of-town visitors.  Below are the details. See you there!

Floyd Virginia Earth Day Celebration on Saturday, May 2, 2015, at the Floyd EcoVillage on Franklin Pike. This is a FREE, FUN educational event. Guest speaker from Mother Earth News to describe tips on growing ginseng. Eco activities for children.

Free local tree seedlings. Local ecological businesses explain products and services. From Nature walks, forestry, medicinal herbs, organic gardening tips and kite flying to the latest in solar panel technology.

Homemade food and drinks made with local ingredients will be available all day.  There will be lots of local organizations and businesses showcasing eco-oriented products, conversation  and information.

For Kids  – free Caterpillar bouncy, Garden hat making, seed planting, FAMILY NATURE WALK AT 12:00
Free toy swap – bring some clean toys  to exchange.

FABULOUS Speaker Schedule

• 10:30 – Barbara Pleasant from Mother Earth News– Managing Monarchs and Milkweed
• 11:00 Jeanine Davis from Mother Earth News    – Growing Ginseng, Goldenseal and other medicinal Herbs
• 12:00 Family nature walk with Fred First, local botanist, naturalist and author
• 12:30 Jason Rutledge – Managing your Woodlot
• 1:30 David Grimsley from Appalachian Medicinal Herb Growers Consortium – on Chinese Herbs
• 2:30 Floyd Eco news – The latest projects & how you can participate
○ — EcoVillage, Solarize Floyd, Sustain Floyd, Preserve Floyd & Blue Ridge Land Conservancy
○ 3:30 Guided EcoVillage tour