In 2010 I flew from Vermont to Alaska to work for Calypso Farm and Ecology Center as a School Garden Supervisor.
The 6 months I spent farming in interior Alaska changed my life.
All of the sudden, I knew it was possible to not just farm, but to do it in a way that grows food and also grows community, creativity and a deep connection to both wild and cultivated spaces.
As a non-profit farm and education center, Calypso runs a successful CSA and teaches people of all ages through their school field trips, summer camps, a farmer training program and workshops on gardening, fiber arts, and blacksmithing.
I recently talked with Susan Willsrud, who co-founded Calypso with her husband Tom Zimmer, about how they got started, how their farm has evolved over nearly 20 years, and the most important things she’s learned since that first season planting seedlings under the midnight sun.
In our interview Susan shares how community plays into a farm’s success, how to overcome the physical and psychological challenges of farming, and her advice to folks who are just starting out on their farming journey (hint: take small steps…but don’t be scared to jump in).
She also shares why Whole Farm Planning is critical for beginning farmers, and why creating a Quality of Life Statement is the first step to a sustainable farm.
If you’re wanting to learn how to farm and eventually run your own, check out Calypso’s Farmer Training Program.
And, you can learn more about their educational workshops here.
Once you’ve listened, we’d love to hear from you.
Are you an aspiring farmer or homesteader? What was your biggest take-away from all Susie shared? Let us know in the comments below.
For me, it was the importance of community and creativity. Both have played a huge part in growing Good Heart Farmstead. You can check out Susie’s creative work in the photos of her gorgeous hand-dyed and hand-spun yarn below.
And if you liked this interview, please share it with a friend! Together we can grow a more joyful, lively world one person and one organic seed at a time.