I started doing workshops at the farm not because I’m an expert in instruction or even have expert knowledge but because there are certain things that I love doing. Craft is one of them. The art of craft has a important meaning for me and how I live my live. It means something traditional and authentic. It is creating and making something by hand. It also may have been something that people have been making for hundreds of years; it has a purpose. Like many moms (and dads), I encouraged crafts with my children and making things with their hands, drawing, hammering boards, cooking, pushing together clay forms. I feel that the the art of creating something for many of us it is an important foundation to happiness and appreciation of life.
When I was finishing university at McGill, an Anthropology professor who I really admired, suggested that what I was doing for a summer job that year - hand making men's shirts (do not ask me why I was doing that…..) was an admirable craft and one that wasn’t being done any longer. His comment has stayed with me. An admirable craft. I could tell that even though I really didn’t have much genuine skill in making shirts, he appreciated the concept and the craft intended behind making them.
The workshops we offer are not in shirt making. We do offer workshops in cooking, bread-making, floral arranging, learning about bees, beading to name a few. I also connect with others who offer instruction in things that I do not do such as dying textiles. I love making bread and I believe it is a craft that over time has ebbed and flowed in and out of our culture as important and something we do now because of choice and in former times, because of necessity. It is something we make from scratch. I am fortunate enough today to have a “genius” bread-maker here to teach his knowledge and expertise. I’ve gone from making bread with others in my farmhouse kitchen into our proper kitchen led by our pastry chef Dylan who makes fantastic sourdough bread from a starter that he has kept for fourteen years. With his guidance, I hope to have two day bread-making workshops this winter so one can really delve into the nuances of dough and the beauty of bread.
In our workshops involving sourdough, I've often started with an explanation about about sourdough, how it is like a love relationship. If you don’t nurture and pay attention, it may slip away. It’s a friendship that will be with you always but you do need to feed it sometimes. I found mine in the back of the refrigerator, abandon by me, completely hard, brown and green with unwanted mold and it didn’t smell that great. It has been neglected far too long and sadly it went into the garbage. Time to start again.
If you ask me what one of my goals here at the farm is, it is to have a place of learning and exploring craft of many kinds. To learn about making bread, cooking with what is available but being creative with ingredients, understanding what local means, what is plant based food and how to properly cook with fish or cut meat, arranging flowers and creating wreaths, to learn about beekeeping, farming and gardening and how to live more sustainably. I have come to the realization that I can not do everything, that it’s time to surround myself with people who have a “genius” of their own and are willing to teach others. I am lucky to have some of these people and who are willing and interested in sharing their knowledge. It’s time for me to let go of some things.
In the meantime, I’m happily doing my own crafts with my girls or just on my own. It’s quiet time, a time to share together and time that I feel great joy and feeling of accomplishment. I believe it is these small things that keep us going and satisfied. Making a great meal, creating some bit of tiny beauty in our home. I told my daughter after listening to a commencement speech by Admiral William McRaven who said “change the world by making your bed’, it’s the little tasks and feeling of accomplishment that take us to the other steps in our day. I agree with this. I think she did too and I noticed her bed was made the next day...I also feel and recognize accomplishment when those who have been here for workshops share with me their own achievements. It is truly a pleasure to receive those emails. I’m sharing two wreaths made from workshop attendees this December.
My life has taken pivoted these past ten years. From an earlier day with an office on Bay street to now my beautiful home office which looks out over the fields. I appreciate the weather. I appreciate beauty of nature. One thing that has not changed. Making and creating things using my hands. It’s a reward after a busy week and I am looking forward to sharing crafts with my girls over this holiday and appreciating all that we have.