During my childhood we lived on 2 ½ acres in an alluvial valley in the Central Texas Hill Country. I found great peace in being outside regardless of the weather, and spent endless hours sitting in the cedar trees, exploring the hillsides and creek beds, and resting in the native grasses as the wind pushed the clouds across the enormous blue skies above me. Our neighbor was an avid gardener and orchardist, and despite the harsh climate kept a thriving vegetable garden and an array of fruit trees, including both sweet and sour cherries, which are not considered possible to grow here. I would later learn that the microclimate of our valley was the reason that those “unadapted” trees were able to fruit and grow strongly, inspiring me to push the limits of what can be grown here in Texas. When we were old enough, my cousin and I were granted the opportunity to participate in the summer camp programs at Austin’s Pioneer Farms, where my uncle had the honor of managing livestock and heritage plants. I loved picking the black-eyed peas, grinding the corn, milking the cow, and churning the butter, and quickly became attached to the idea of living as close to nature as possible when I became an adult. From that time on, learning and developing the techniques necessary for that life has been my priority.
While attending college at Southwestern University my roommate and I tried our best to garner support for using university land to launch a sustainable agriculture research and training program, but met immovable resistance in the freshly inaugurated president. After moving to a home on a quarter acre in Jonestown, I began growing polycultures and experimenting with different techniques, such as no-till growing. I spent six years working on Jonestown’s Angel Valley Organic Farm, building my skills, knowledge base, and confidence. In 2011, after keeping under-the-radar ducks and then rabbits, I successfully petitioned the Jonestown City Council to legalize backyard goat-keeping, and in July of that year I brought home my first two dairy goats. After Angel Valley closed their doors in 2012, I began working at Hill Country Natives, a food forest and native plant nursery in Leander, where I helped propagate and care for a wide variety of species as well as maintain the kitchen gardens.
In the spring of 2015, we gathered all of our resources and moved from Jonestown to 10 acres in Rosanky, Texas, a little over an hour from downtown Austin. Starting with our four goats and four chickens, we plan to rotationally graze a mixed species “flerd” (flock + herd) and pasture-crop polycultures of vegetables and fruit in a way that complies with health regulations. My husband Daniel is a chef, and our goal is to provide enough produce and value-added foods to supply our own restaurant while creating a thriving example of sustainable, regenerative agriculture using everything I’ve learned and will learn. My primary goal as a farmer is to develop practical methods of environmentally conscious food production that are usable on various scales and accessible to others, regardless of resource or income restrictions– I want everyone interested to have access to healthy food and the confidence to be a part of the systems that create it.
What I am offering as a farmer-teacher:
Learn to address garden problems as symptoms of imbalance and adjust your growing system to resolve plant health issues
Growing and grazing for carbon sequestration and nitrogen fixation to improve environmental conditions and confront global climate change
Learn how to design and adjust a system that feeds you a well-balanced diet and requires as little input (materials, energy, etc.) as possible because it mimics naturally occurring ecosystems
Grow awareness of oneself as a part of nature, with a focus on knowing what you are drawing from it (the real environmental and personal consequences of dependence on systems of pollution and resource depletion like factory farming of animals and plants) and what you can do to help create regenerative systems within nature to support your health and well-being along with that of the wider world.Contact Mary for more information.