This past summer I had the pleasure of working at Nature’s Pace Organics, a small farm in Mayville, Michigan. While I learned countless things during my stay on the farm, The story and objectives of Jacob and Katie, the married couple that owns Nature’s Pace, is remarkable. They agreed for me to interview them for the blog. Here’s a transcript of our Skype conversation after a long catching up.
Dane: My blog is about homesteading, but you guys own a farm. What things do you do that would be considered homesteading and not farming?
Katie: Well, our end goal is to downsize from 20 acres to a 4 acre homestead. Financially, it was less risky to acquire more land in order to produce a yield that we could sell instead of consuming and storing for ourselves. But besides our (hopefully near) future as a full blown homestead, there’s tons of stuff we do that would qualify. It’s a rare week when I need to go to the grocery store for anything. We’ve canned and stored and frozen so much of what we and friends of ours have produced or hunted for years. I make cheese from our goats, eat eggs from our chickens, and tinctures and home remedies from our herbs. You know I make kombucha because we’ve made it together! My new favorite thing is making kefir before Forrest (their 6 year old son) loves it.
Dane: People tend to think that homesteading is difficult and extremely time intensive. What do you think?
Katie: There’s so much information out there today that it’s almost impossible to have a hard time learning how to do something. Nothing I’ve tried so far has been impossibly hard and after doing it once, you’ve got it down and can’t help but teaching all your friends. I think the time it takes is a good thing. I feel so much more connected to jam I’ve made myself with fruit from our trees than a jar you could buy at the grocery store. When you know your food and the values with which it was created, you feel better, more whole in a way.
Dane: Can you tell me some of the environmental and human benefits to homesteading?
Jacob: The extensive amount of energy that goes into the production of things that require very little energy to make at home is remarkable. Giant plants run machinery for most of the day to make a jars of sauerkraut? It’s so easy to make sauerkraut! If people took a minimal amount of time to turn cabbage to sauerkraut (not even grow the cabbage), think how much energy could be saved. Starting a home garden, regardless of how small, is so environmentally and economically worthwhile if you want to put a little love into it. Your average packet of home garden seeds will cost you a few dollars and you get a much greater money’s worth in yield. Like Katie said, we feel so much better knowing the values that were used in the growing of what we eat. I can’t imagine that that’s much different for anyone else.
Katie: It’s been extremely valuable for our kids to watch all that we do and take part in our work. I think a lot of the reason more people don’t homestead is because they haven’t seen it in action. Teaching young people in settings such as ours is something I think could make a huge difference in our environment and especially our food system. Part of the reason I’m so glad you’re making this blog!
Jacob and Katie were a huge inspiration to me this summer and increased my awareness of so many aspects of food and living simply. Their story is beautiful and one I am so happy I get to share with all of you.