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Soil Sisters: Life is about food, family, faith and forest

It is easy to lose yourself in the day’s work. The task list seems endless and everything is a priority. This is especially true for so many with children at home now, too. We have the power to switch the lens. To take now as an opportunity to grow, learn and understand what is essential in life. Finding community here amongst other women farmers committed to sustainability in the Soil Sisters group has been easy, because these women know this about life. In our gatherings, we celebrate food and family. Each of us brings a dish to pass, reflective of our farm’s abundance at the time (this means a lot of eggs in spring and tomatoes in the fall). We laugh and share stories with each other. We let go of our troubles and reflect on what is good. We lift each other and appreciate all that the land and our community gives, despite our differences.




09/27/20

Monroe Times
By Anastasia Wampfler, Riemer Family Farm (Brodhead, WI)

The air turned cool as the blue color of the evening sky deepened. A cloud of mist settled around us as the sun set, and the near full moon rose. The sweet smell of fresh cut grass, accompanied by the soft, rhythmic tearing and crunching made by the cattle gently grazing brought a sweeping sense of peace to the evening. Their silhouettes were made dark in contrast to the fading, purple and orange night sky.

As farmers, we work around the clock, seven days a week. Here, at Riemer Family Farm in Brodhead, we raise diversified livestock on pasture, including beef, pork, chicken, turkey and lamb. Our animals need to be tended to every day, whether it’s a holiday or not. This builds character, resilience and a strong work ethic for most farmers. For me, it has done something more. It has challenged me to live in the present. To love, cherish and experience every moment for what it is. It is easy to lose yourself in the day’s work. The task list seems endless and everything is a priority. This is especially true for so many with children at home now, too. We have the power to switch the lens. To take now as an opportunity to grow, learn and understand what is essential in life.

Before I came to farming, I hiked over 1,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail where I learned the four most important things in life. I find them true, especially now: Food, Family, Faith and Forest.

Food is more important than most realize. Your body is made by what you eat. Just think about that for a second. Food is absolutely the most important thing you will ever spend money on. The quality of the food you eat will determine the quality of yours and others’ lives. It impacts our environment, our communities, our economy and even our personal relationships. Making dinner from wholesome ingredients grown by your local farmer is the best thing you can do for your family, your community, your economy and your environment. Luckily in Green County, that’s easy.

Family, or the people (friends included) who surround and love you most, are vital. We are built and fueled by our relationships. While difference seeks to drive us apart, we must remember that we are all trying to do what is best in our own minds. It is the strength of our relationships that can bridge these differences and actually improve the world.

Faith is the active decision to seek good in the world. Faith is not a denomination; it does not require you to pick a church or read a book. It requires you to give grace a chance and see beyond the storm; to believe in people. Learn what gives you hope and cultivate it. Faith is essential, especially now.

Forest encompasses all aspects of nature, but I like alliterations and hiked through mostly woods, so forest it is! Forest represents our critical relationship with the land upon which we depend for clean air, water, food, medicine, resources and our physical and mental well-being. Growing a garden, feeding the birds, visiting a farm, taking a walk; it all connects us to the land in ways that we need to be happy, healthy and whole. Finding community here amongst other women farmers committed to sustainability in the Soil Sisters group has been easy, because these women know this about life. In our gatherings, we celebrate food and family. Each of us brings a dish to pass, reflective of our farm’s abundance at the time (this means a lot of eggs in spring and tomatoes in the fall). We laugh and share stories with each other. We let go of our troubles and reflect on what is good. We lift each other and appreciate all that the land and our community gives, despite our differences.

While we can’t gather like we used to right now, we can all learn to value these four most important things and to truly live in the present, enjoying each moment as a gift. Take a break from your screen, grab some coffee or tea and step outside to watch the trees change, listen to the birds sing, feel the cooling of the air. Eat some incredible food and relish time with others.

Ask yourself, how are you valuing these four most important things in life?

Nobody knows what will happen later today, tomorrow, next week or next year. We are united by ignorance.

Luckily, we live in Green County, where food, family, faith, forest (and farms) are abundant. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know there is much to enjoy today. You just have to look through the right lens.

I quietly rose from my peaceful place on the ground and walked back across the dewy pastures to the gate. When I opened the door of my car, I noticed a fallen Autumn leaf. A sweet reminder that change is in the air. — Anastasia Wampfler runs Marketing and Outreach at Riemer Family Farm in Brodhead, a regenerative and diverse livestock farm that raises pastured, farm fresh meat and eggs. More info at riemerfamilyfarm.com.This Soil Sisters column originally ran in The Monroe Times on 9/27/20.



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