Sustainable Clothing: All About Dyes

Sustainable Clothing: All About Dyes

Walk into any clothing store these days and look around. Garments are available in a vast array of colors, from black, white and neutral tones all the way to neon brights in any hue and everything in between. To the modern day consumer, it’s perfectly normal and expected to have a wide selection of colors to choose from when making a purchase. We value color choice as an expression of our personality and individual taste. But how often do we stop to consider where the color actually comes from, and how all of those garments are dyed?

Synthetic Dyes

Unless clearly stated otherwise, most clothing you buy today has been subjected to synthetic dyes. Synthetic dyes were created in the 1850s, and were a revolutionary way to produce long lasting colorful garments on the cheap, according to Regina Lee Blaszczyk, professor of business history at the University of Leeds. Before this discovery was made through an accidental chemical process in a lab, clothing was dyed using substances found in nature, particularly plants.

Synthetic dyes have come a long way since 1850. We now know that the way most of them are made  (using petrochemicals, aka plastic!) is extremely toxic for the dye handlers and  super harmful for the environment, particularly the waterways of developing countries where garment production is prevalent.  For a closer look at these toxic and inhumane processes check out an excellent documentary called River Blue.

Fiber Reactive Dyes

Fiber reactive dyes are not naturally derived. They are synthetics, but they are considered a more sustainable alternative than most of the synthetics used today. Why? They require WAY less water to produce their color, and their toxicity levels are significantly less than normal synthetic dyes. More conscious clothing brands are turning to this process for less impact on the environment and human health. Learn more here.

Natural Dyes

Natural dyes aren’t created in a lab, they are directly derived from plants and vegetation. Natural dyes are (mostly) non toxic, and are safe to wear on your skin. If a company says they use natural dyes, it means not only that their workers are safe from harmful chemicals but that the clothing you are wearing  is free from the harmful substances found in many synthetic dyes.

Because natural dyeing is a slower, more involved and more expensive process, you can be sure that the fast fashion industry uses synthetic dyes exclusively, with little or no exception.  But in learning about natural dyes, you can help shift the industry by creating a demand for a  more sustainable alternative to fabric color creation. Look for naturally dyed clothing from small boutique and artisan apparel companies, and use your buying power to feel good about what you’re wearing.

You can also have a lot of fun experimenting with natural dyes yourself. There are many techniques, but we’ll be teaching a bundle dyeing workshop at our Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat in November, where you’ll learn how to use heat to transfer color from various plants onto fabric. In addition to this, you’ll have several other workshops to choose from, including food fermentation basics, sound healing, clean beauty and yoga.

Come play with us and enjoy and entire weekend of slow living, wonderful food, fun and community in the beautiful Catoctin mountains of Maryland, November 15th-17th. Get all the details and register here!

DIY Bundle Dyeing by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge











Sustainable Lifestyle: 3 Easy Practices for Managing Stress On-the-Spot

Sustainable Lifestyle: 3 Easy Practices for Managing Stress On-the-Spot

A sustainable lifestyle is more than just integrating slow fashion and zero waste practices into your routine. Just as our material resources need to be managed in a way that allows us the joy of slow living, our inner resources, such as our mental and emotional energy, need tending as well. A key aspect of slow living is to bring your intentions of sustainable living inward, by slowing your mind and body down.

Here are three ways you can help yourself regain emotional balance when the going gets rough.


First, let’s talk about the time honored practice that works so well with our modern, on-the-go lifestyles, the two finger breath trick, or sometimes called alternate nostril breathing.

  1. Using one hand, place a pinky finger on one side of your nose and a thumb finger on the other side of your nose. Gently push your fingers so that your nostrils are closed, kind of like you’re blocking an unpleasant smell.
  2. Now let the thumb finger go, breathe in through the open nostril, and press the thumb finger back down.
  3. Hold your breath for 3 seconds.
  4. Let the pinky finger go, and let your breath loose through that nostril.

And then start over. Do this slow breathing practice a few times. You’ll start to notice your heart rate slowing, and your mind letting go of your worries to focus on your physical movements.


Another quick de-stressor is to sit up tall, breathe in and out, and wiggle your toes. This combo of small body movements won’t disrupt your metro seat buddy, or startle your co-workers. It’s pretty discrete and it provides a quick mind and body reset. You can use a free app called Aloe Bud, which sends reminders for small actions like this, or you can set reminders directly on your devices.


Thich Nhat Hanh, a well known Vietnamese monk and peace activist known for his many writings on mindfulness also believes in quick, do-anywhere practices. He even published a pocket meditation book called How to Relax. In it, he says an easy way to slow your brain and catch your breath is simply to smile. “A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face, and relax your nervous system. A smile makes you master of yourself.” Now what could be easier than that!

You can do these simple practices anywhere or anytime you find yourself in need of a quick moment to re-center.

Quick and easy tricks are useful, but as sustainable living advocates we believe in building a practice that helps us maintain (or regain more quickly) a state of calm. That’s why we try to practice yoga as often as we can. Yoga allows us to move in intentional ways, and invites our minds to let go of our worries and focus on our bodies.

Yes, we’ll be offering morning yoga sessions during our Slow Living Retreat in November, led by DMV area yogi Jackie Horstmann Didio! She’ll also be hosting a workshop entitled “Living Life Through a Yogic Lens,” during which attendees will learn how to integrate yogic practices into their daily lives.

You can find out more about Jackie here: @jacquelynanneyoga
And more about our Slow Living Retreat here. We hope you’ll come join us!

Comment below with your go-to mindfulness practices, and when you use them!

Sustainable Fall Fruits, Farmed and Foraged

Sustainable Fall Fruits, Farmed and Foraged

It’s time for apples, pears and pumpkins, our seasonal favorites!  But how do we choose the most sustainable of these mass produced products?  Although farm-grown and pick-your-own options are becoming much more available in certain areas, many people are still looking to the supermarket or other large scale operations for their supply. Unfortunately, produce for wide distribution is most often not grown using sustainable methods. Herbicides and pesticides used for disease and pest control damage the soil and linger in the fruit that we end of up eating, with often unknown effects.

As always, it’s best to seek out your most local sources and find out what you can about their methods of production. It’s also fun to learn about other fall foods that might be less familiar and less available in the marketplace, but no less tasty or versatile in their uses. Others that you might not have considered growing for yourself are easier than you’d think, even in urban and suburban areas!


Meet the Pawpaw!

Have you heard of the pawpaw? It’s the largest edible fruit native to north America, resembling a tropical fruit in both appearance and taste. Shaped a bit like a mango, it’s custard like consistency is often said to resemble something between a mango and a banana in flavor. The pawpaw grows on a tree that’s native to the eastern United States and was a staple for indigenous people and early settlers. Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello and George Washington loved having them for dessert.

Our five -year- old pawpaw tree produced for the first time this year and we’re pretty excited about having them right in our own back yard! You can, however, easily find them in the woods or along a path in many parts of the country. Be aware that they bruise easily and don’t travel well. If you find some on a foraging hike, treat them very gently on the way home and plan to eat them right away because they go quickly. Their fragility is likely the reason few people know about them. Highly perishable foods don’t fit in well with our industrial food production and distribution model. So when you locate your pawpaws from a local farmer or find them in the wild, know that they are something special! Or if you decide to try growing your own, many mail order suppliers offer easy- to -grow and maintain pawpaw trees.


The Concord Grape: An Old Favorite

We also had an abundance of Concord grapes on our one vine, which being left to do its own thing did very well! I bought it at a garden center a few years ago and planted it but have essentially ignored it since. The lack of any fertilizer or pruning doesn’t seem to have held it back at all. It had, in fact, gone so far as to wind its way high up into the apple tree that stands close to it. Climbing an apple tree to pick grapes was a unique experience! Next year, I’ll pay a little more attention and try to keep it growing at least along the fence. If you have even a small space and some sort of structure to support it, I recommend a Concord grape vine for easy and fun fall fruit!


The Autumn Olive: Forage and Feast

A couple of foraging hikes over the weekend payed off with three quarts of autumn olives, or autumn berries. This delightful, tart fruit is a well kept secret that should be shared! It grows on the Eleagnus umbellata bush, a vigorous, medium to large invasive shrub that grows in the eastern US and as far west as Montana. They appear in disturbed areas and along edges of meadows and open areas.

The berry, high in vitamin C and the powerful nutrient, Lycopene, is distinguishable by the tiny silver flecks covering them. They grow in handful-sized clumps that are easy and quick to harvest. Unfortunately, a common method of fighting back the proliferation of this plant is the heavy use of herbicides, including glyphosate, or Round-Up. A more sustainable way of controlling them is to harvest, cook and eat the berries so that the seeds aren’t spread by the birds.


Forage Wisely

As always, a word of caution about foraging. Don’t eat ANYTHING that you can’t identify one hundred percent. Also, be mindful of locations where things might have been sprayed with weed killers. If those things are meant to kill plants think what they can do to you. Along a busy road is not a great place to forage either, as the plants growing there might have absorbed heavy metals from the exhaust fumes.



Autumn berries can be used for jams, jellies and preserves, just like the grapes. Paw paws are great for ice cream, or used like banana in pudding or a sweet bread.

Also, all of these fruits can also be used to make delicious, nutritious homemade fermented sodas from whey, a by-product of kefir. These delightful drinks are a life changer for you and your family. Imagine a sweet soda drink that builds your immune system, aids in digestion and fights disease!

We’ll be teaching a class on this at our Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat, November 15th-17th! Check out our retreat page for all the details and come join us for a fantastic weekend of amazing workshops, presentations, food, fun and community!

Five Easy Plants to Grow for Delicious, Healthy Summer Drinks

Five Easy Plants to Grow for Delicious, Healthy Summer Drinks

Nothing says summertime like having a cool drink in the shade. We enjoy a lot of iced drinks here on the farm, especially when the chores keep us outside on hot days. Despite the hundreds of beverage choices on the market, however, there are several reasons we choose to make our own. Not only is it the sustainable choice (we like to skip the plastic jugs and juice boxes) but we avoid numerous additives like sugar, artificial preservatives and food dyes. And we save money as well!

To keep our cool beverages flowing, we grow five plants in our garden that ensure a constant supply and a pleasing variety. These herbs aren’t finicky—they can be grown in a country garden or a city balcony. All they need is soil, water, and sunshine! Want to try growing your own? Or if you want to start making yummy teas right away, you can can order all of these in dried or powdered form from Mountain Rose Herbs, a reliable source of sustainable herbal products. (not affiliated)

Tips for Growing the Herbs


The first three are all in the mint family and will spread all over the place, so unless you have a lot of garden space to spare, plant these in their own pots!

  1. Peppermint: A very familiar garden herb, cooling, refreshing and helpful for digestion. Yes, it grows like crazy but we use LOTS of it!
  2. Lemon Balm: Known to be soothing and calming to the nervous system, great when you need to relax.
  3. Tulsi (or Holy Basil): Known in India as “the queen of herbs” where it is used as an herbal remedy for many common ailments, including stress relief!

These two will mind their garden manners a little better by staying within their boundaries. If they like their spot they’ll bush out and grow to be about three feet tall.

  1. Lemon Verbena: Fragrant and delicious with a delightful lemony taste, good for congestion, inflammation insomnia, and weight loss.
  2. Stevia: Nature’s healthy sweetener. You can make any of these drinks as sweet as you like with zero sugar or artificial ingredients!

Where can you get these plants? You’ll most likely find peppermint and lemon balm at your local nursery or any place that sells starter plants in spring and early summer. In recent years, I’ve begun to see stevia starts in the nurseries as well. Tulsi is often found at places that sell herbs. You can order the seeds for both stevia and tulsi at Mountain Rose Herbs. Lemon Verbena is often sold as a starter plant in nurseries as a natural insect repellent.

Creating Your Own Delicious Summer Drinks


Basic Herbal Iced Tea

  • Choose any one or any combination of the mint, lemon balm, tulsi or lemon verbena leaves and pack a half gallon mason jar* about ⅓ to 1/2 full (with fresh leaves) or 2 ounces of the dried. If you want it sweet, add a handful of crushed, fresh stevia leaves or powdered stevia to taste.
  • Pour boiling water over the tea leaves to fill the jar. Place the lid, tighten slightly and let sit until cool (4-6 hours).
  • When the jar is room temperature, pour the tea over a strainer into your container of choice and compost the leaves.
  • When chilled, serve over ice with a lemon slice and a whole peppermint stem if desired.

*Avoid pouring boiling water into a cool jar or likewise, trying to rapidly cool a warm jar as a sudden temperature change could cause breakage.



  • For a more traditional iced tea blend, add 5-6 black tea bags in with any combination of the herbal tea leaves.
  • For super hydration, add ¼-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar!
  • For extra flavor, add fresh berries, honey, or a whole cut-up lemon (if organic, include a tsp of zest) to the jar before adding the boiling water.
  • For a delicious lemonade, add ¼-½ cup apple cider vinegar, the juice from two whole organic lemons plus a teaspoon of zest, a handful of crushed stevia leaves, a whole, fresh peppermint stem with leaves or 1 oz of the dried.

Whether you’ve got a garden plot or a few pots on the balcony, having these plants on hand will provide you with a whole summertime of delightful, healthful beverages. And of course, having the dried on hand will ensure you tasty iced or hot teas all year round!

Get ready for everyone to say, “Hmmm, this is sooo good! What’s in it?”



Safe, Sustainable Drinking Water For You: Berkey Water Purification Systems

Safe, Sustainable Drinking Water For You: Berkey Water Purification Systems

At Lady Farmer, we’re all about helping you cultivate your own sustainable lifestyle. This includes helping you find the best quality products for all of your basic needs–and other than oxygen, nothing is more basic than water for survival.

We have well water here on the farm, and though we had a UV filter already in place to reduce pathogens, we sometimes wondered if it was enough. Bacteria is only one concern, as groundwater can be affected by numerous factors. For instance, what about glyphosate (Round Up) runoff? Then we learned all about the Berkey Water Filter systems and decided to try it out. We’re so glad we did, and we’re now we’re offering it to you in our online store! Read on.

berkey water purification system

Is Your Water Clean and Safe?

Left to her own ways, our beautiful, bountiful planet is more than generous in providing what we need. Access to clean, sustainable water, however, is often made difficult, by our human systems and consumptive practices. Troubled Water, a project on drinking water contamination in the United States (produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program) reports that as many as 63 million Americans have been exposed to “potentially unsafe drinking water” since 2007.

According to the CDC, contamination of our water systems can come from numerous sources. Here is a list of the most common ones:

  • Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, uranium)
  • Local land use practices (fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, concentrated animal feeding operations)
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Sewer overflows
  • Malfunctioning wastewater treatment systems (for example, nearby septic systems)

The Best Water Purifier

Okay, so maybe you’re already “in the know” about ensuring that you and your family have safe, sustainable drinking water, but there are so many methods and products to choose from.

Why did we choose the Berkey as the best water filter? So glad you asked!

First of all, it’s not just a filter, but an entire water purification system, which means it kills 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria and reduces viruses by 99.99%.

Other key points that qualify Berkey as a top quality, Lady Farmer sustainable lifestyle product are:

  • It’s a gravity-fed water system, so no electricity needed. That’s sustainable!
  • It removes or dramatically reduces protozoa, trihalomethanes, inorganic minerals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, VOCs, petroleum products, perfluorinated chemicals, rust, silt, sediment, radiologicals–and it removes glyphosate by greater than 75%! I’m good with having all of that taken out of my drinking water. Are you?
  • It’s low maintenance! I top off our “Big Berkey” every morning with a half gallon of water to keep it flowing (you don’t want water standing in it for more than 3 days) and drink from it all day. The only cleaning it needs is a quick, once-a-month warm, soapy wash of the lower container and you’re’ done. Easy!

The Cost of Clean Water

sustainable drinking water

You might be thinking the Berkey is too expensive for you to consider, but here are a few things to think about concerning the “true cost” of the water you choose to drink.

  • Do you buy bottled water? According to figures from the Beverage Marketing Corporation and International Bottled Water Association, bottled water is the #1 beverage product in the U.S. ahead of soft drinks, totalling $18.5B in sales in 2018. We spend more money on water than any other bottled beverage!
  • Consider what you’ll spend over a year on $1.00-$5.00 bottles (depending on size and where you buy them) that are emptied in minutes and then left to linger for thousands of years in the landfill. According to The Story of Stuff researchers, bottled water costs about 2000 times more than tap water, even though many of those companies are merely bottling the tap water and selling it to you! Your investment in a Berkey can actually save you thousands of dollars over years of use, and will prevent thousands of single-use containers from joining that plastic island in the Pacific (or the beaches, the rivers, the highways and forests….)
  • Do you purchase water while traveling? The Travel Berkey alone (currently $249-$269) could pay for itself in no time by providing you with an endless supply of purified water (that you can trust!) while on the road.
  • Once you’ve invested in the Berkey of your choice, further expense is minimal. Two Black Berkey® Purification Elements in a Berkey® system will purify approximately 6,000 gallons of water before replacement is recommended.

which water purification system is best

Choosing a Berkey Water Filtration System

Here’s an abbreviated guide to the choices we offer, complete details can be accessed here.
There are five stainless steel models, plus the super portable Berkey Go Kit.

In order of size and capacity (from largest to smallest), the choices are:

  • Crown Berkey: 6 gallons, 30” tall, ideal for large groups such as schools, churches group gatherings and extended outages.
  • Imperial Berkey: 4.5 gallons, 26” tall, great for mid to large-size families and small group gatherings
  • Royal Berkey: 3.25 gallons, 23” tall, serves small to mid-size families and works for outside activities.
  • Big Berkey: 2.25 gallons,19.25” tall,for smaller households and outdoor activities
  • Travel Berkey:1.5 gallons, 18” tall, the best portable water purifier we know! Great for vacation, it even fits in most carry on suitcases.
  • Go Berkey Kit: 1 quart, 14”, take it camping, hiking, school, work, lightweight and easy to carry

We are very happy with our choice of the Big Berkey. It’s just myself and Farmer Ted living in the house, but as you know, I make LOTS of tea! We tend to have lots of visitors as well, so we keep it flowing. I also like the height, it fits nicely in its corner spot by the window. Our next Berkey purchase will be the Berkey Travel. It’s so good to know we can have fresh, purified water anywhere we go!   –Mary 

It’s true we have many purchasing decisions to make in cultivating a more sustainable lifestyle, but when it comes down to our most fundamental needs, why not choose the very best?

Have questions about the Berkey? Let us know, we’re here to help (! Ready to have the best water purifier out there in your home now? You can get it here and have your own clean water flowing in a few days!

Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine.
– Slovakian Proverb

what is the best water purifier system

Patriotic and Plastic Free!

Patriotic and Plastic Free!

The personal freedoms we enjoy in this country are central to our nationwide celebrations on July 4th. How about choosing this day to be FREE from single-use plastics?

As history would have it, the birthday of our great nation happens at the zenith of summer. It’s the ultimate outdoor holiday, a day when Americans love to take off and celebrate with family and community.Think of all the gatherings taking place across the whole country at ballparks, swimming pools, backyards and beaches, virtually every one of them involving lots of food and drink.

But what about the day after?

Now, close your eyes and think about it. The picnics are over, the fireworks are spent. Americans have returned to home and work and their daily routine. Picture those parks and beaches and what’s left behind from the celebrations. What do you see? Sadly, the next-day reality is a widespread trash heap of plastic cups, plates and utensils, cellophane and food wraps of every description, six-pack holders, sports drink and soda bottles, plastic bags and water bottles, bags, caps, twists….

Communities across the country confirm that it’s not a pretty sight.

One small coastal town in Washington reported over 75 tons of trash recovered from the beach in the aftermath of the holiday in 2015. Volunteers in San Diego County gathered on the morning of July 5th, 2016 to collect thousands of pounds of plastic, styrofoam, bottles, discarded personal items, etc. See the “Morning After Mess Totals” here.  Go to almost any public park and see the same thing. Many Americans have fallen into an unfortunate delusion that when it comes to their own trash, it’s someone else’s job to take care of it. Here’s another chart from the Ocean Conservancy from last year. 

What can we do?

We can do what Americans do best, the very reason we celebrate this day. We can CHOOSE to do it differently! Yes, the problem is vast and yes, there are multiple industries behind every aspect of this issue. But there is no industry forcing you to use disposable items. They might spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to convince you that you must, that convenience trumps common sense, that there is no other option. But ultimately you get to decide what to use or not use.

The Challenge:

We challenge you this 4th of July to make some different choices regarding disposables and in particular, single-use plastics.  If that sounds like too much, it’s okay. Maybe you can do just one thing to shift the scenario for yourself this holiday. Here are some basic ideas.

  • Enjoying an outdoor meal at home with family and friends? Instead of the go-to disposable picnic ware and plastic utensils, just decide to use the real ones. Or if that’s not at all practical, try a compostable brand.
  • Serve simple, homemade drinks from pitchers and provide real glasses. (see recipe below!)*
  • Taking something to a covered dish gathering? Think twice before covering that dish with a sheet of plastic wrap that will go straight into the trash. A clean dishcloth usually works great.
  • Take your own drink cup with you and say “no thanks” to those ubiquitous red, white and blue SOLO cups that blight the landscape.
  • Whether you’re hosting a gathering, a guest somewhere or eating in a restaurant, skip the straw. Easy!
  • Share what you’re doing. If anyone asks about your unique drinking cup or asks why in the world you wouldn’t use disposable plates and utensils for your picnic, tell them about Plastic Free July and why!

Okay, so maybe for whatever reason you don’t do any of the above. That’s okay too, because after reading this far, you are at least aware of the issue, aware that there is another way when you can and when you are ready to do things differently. Given that most people don’t even think about these things, that’s an important step in the right direction.

By the way, we’ve got several plastic free, sustainable lifestyle items for 15% off in our online store, including Lady Farmer t-shirts, baby onesies, organic bedding and all pieces in our Essential Collection!  Use the code plasticfreejuly at checkout .

Have a safe and happy 4th of July, everyone. Use the hashtag #patrioticandplasticfree to post your plastic free celebration! 

–Updated from original post on 7/4/2018





  1. Stuff a half gallon mason jar full of fresh mint plus 2-4 black tea bags, add  6-8 inch cutting of a stevia plant (or powdered to taste) and pour boiling water over it. Let it sit for 4 hours or overnight. CHILL IN FRIDGE, YUMMY!
  2. If you don’t have fresh mint in your garden, use mint tea bags in combination with the black tea, add sugar or stevia or whatever sweetener you want—or none.  And lemon, of course!
  3. You don’t have to use the black tea if you want caffeine free but I prefer a little to give it body.
  4. Use frozen strawberries for ice cubes and a sprig of fresh mint as garnish for a festive flair!


Sustainable Travel: Real Food on the Road

Making sustainable food choices on a road trip can be a challenge, especially if you really care about sourcing and quality. Options are usually limited to fast food and packaged, shelf stable snacks at gas stations, not even close to the guidelines we like to follow at home. We try to bring our own along, but with so many things to do just to get out of town, food prep for the road often falls short. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for places to get “real food” while traveling by car.barbara-kingsolver-restaurantHere’s a gem we’ve discovered just up the road from where my grandparents live. The Harvest Table is in a small town called Meadowview, Virginia, a beautiful Appalachian town just off of Highway 81 close to Abingdon. It’s a special restaurant started by Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer), which began as an extension of Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the story about her family’s year-long experiment to eat only locally grown foods. It has grown into something much bigger, as they say on their website, “The Harvest Table is more than just a restaurant. Over the last ten years, the Harvest Table family has grown to include our kitchen staff, servers, store clerks, farmers, small business owners, artisans and neighbors. Relationships have developed over the common desire to support local and celebrate our Appalachian heritage.”

barbara-kingsolver-restaurantMy family loves to stop here when we can, as we can count on a locally sourced, nutritious, and delicious meal. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual–you feel a bit like you’re on a friend’s back patio. It’s high quality without the extra frills—just good care for the land, community and experience. This time around, mom and I both got the grass-fed burger, no bun, with a salad. It was just delicious!

It’s true that places like this are probably few and far between. In the absence of such options (and if your run out of time to prep your own “to go” meals) here are a few quick tips to help you make your way along the interstate food desert.

  • To avoid questionable water and plastic bottles, fill up a few half gallon mason jars with fresh, filtered water from home. (Stay tuned, the Travel Berkey water filter is coming to our online store— soon! )
  • Pack dried fruit and nut mixes. They are calorie and nutrient dense and sometimes might suffice in the place of a regular meal.
  • Fresh fruit, celery and carrot sticks, washed and ready to eat.
  • Grab a jar of organic peanut butter, a loaf of bread and a spreading knife to save the day.
  • A bar of high quality, dark chocolate will take you many a mile!

What do you take in the car to keep you going to the next real food? Do you know of any great places to stop for a meal where you’ve traveled? No matter where you are or where you’re headed, there are probably some Lady Farmers headed that way that would love to know how and where to eat better on the road, and experience local!

Happy summer travels!




A Second Life for Shoes: Emma’s Favorite Discount Shoe Store

A question we get a lot is, “How do I know if something is ‘sustainable’ and if I should buy it or not?” Or, “What are some sustainable companies for the things that I need?”

The answer can sometimes be more complicated than it may seem. That’s because “sustainable” is such a broad, vague, and subjective word. At Lady Farmer, we encourage deciding what sustainable means to you, and going from there. As long as you are taking time to make a conscious decision based on personal guidelines you’ve set for yourself, we think that is much better than mindlessly consuming. It’s simply taking back your purchasing power as a consumer!

Enter: The Favorite Second-hand Shoe Store


A few weeks ago my mom and I took our quarterly (sometimes more often) pilgrimage to East Tennessee, where mom is from (and also the setting of her debut novel, Angel ). I’m lucky to have both grandparents still alive and well there, which is so special. I’m also lucky that my favorite second-hand/discount shoe store is there, and that we are usually able to make time for a stop! Most times I don’t actually buy anything, but sometimes that perfect pair appears happily on the shelf in front of me. What’s the most fun is that everything there is usually just in one size and style, so it feels even more completely serendipitous when it does happen.

discount-shoe-storeThis past trip we were short on time on our way out of town, but after an entire five seconds of reasoning with my mom about why we should stop, she was convinced. Lucky for us, because they had just gotten in a shipment of slightly out-of-season Birkenstock styles (which are actually produced with pretty sustainable materials, and last a long time) and mom found a great pair of *cute* but *comfy* walking shoes for her trip to Italy. There was also an entire wall of only slightly worn Frye boots at a fraction of the retail price!


Gold mine, y’all.


These guys were just waiting for me…and I’ve worn them literally every day since I bought them!


Want to Buy New? Here Are Some Sustainable Shoe Suggestions:

If I’m going to buy new shoes at full price, I do have pretty strict parameters on what I’ll put my money towards and trust my feet with. Here are a few that I lust over and am saving for:

  • Sevilla Smith
    • Handmade in either Philadelphia, PA or Barcelona, depending on where the shoemaker happens to be living at the time you order!
  • Aurora Shoes, NYC
    • Handmade in upstate New York
  • Bryr Clogs
    • Handmade in San Francisco!
  • Birkenstock (though I found sound out-of-season discount ones at Beaty’s!)
  • I get a lot of questions about sustainable exercise shoes – I pretty much exclusively buy unworn tennis shoes at places like Beaty’s or another thrift store (you’d be shocked what people buy, never wear, then give away…) just because I haven’t been able to find plastic-free shoes that I feel great about buying. If that’s not your thing, here’s an article from Eco Warrior Princess on some “sustainable” shoe brands – again – use your own judgement on what that means to you!

What are some of your favorite second-hand stores and how do you find them? Wherever you are, there is a probably a Lady Farmer nearby that would love to know!   Happy (sustainable) shopping! -Emma




Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat 2019

Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat 2019

Whether you live on country acreage or dwell in the city, you’re a Lady Farmer if you care deeply about sowing seeds of slow living. You might be seeking more sustainability in your life, or you have a yearning for more connection to yourself, your loved ones and your community. You value the land under your feet, the source and sustenance of all living things. You’re curious about how to create a more sustainable lifestyle, and how that might make a better impact on the world and coming generations.

Does that sound like you? Or the Lady Farmer you dream you will be?

The Power of Gathering

It’s true that the modern world challenges many of our sustainable lifestyle intentions. But when we spend time with and learn from each other, we craft and share tools that help better foster slow living mindsets for ourselves and our families. In sowing seeds of slow living together, we can observe how we spend our time and resources. We are supported in stepping back from systems that separate us from the sources of our most basic needs.

And so, we now welcome Lady Farmers from all walks of life to come together at our second annual Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat!


The Lady Farmer Slow Living Retreat 2019

“…a marvelous way to help focus my intentions on things that matter as I restarted the family business last year–namely balance, sustainability, creativity, and family!” – Stacy

Our Weekend of Learning and Sharing

Returning to Zigbone Farm Retreat on November 15th – 17th, 2019, this relaxing retreat weekend will again feature speakers and workshops designed for the modern woman around sustainability, and how to live a life of simplicity, beauty and health.

For the full weekend participants, you will be checking into the cozy Zigbone Farmhouse (renovated with geo-thermal heating and a green roof to be energy efficient!) on Friday evening, November 15th. We’ll come together as a group and get to know each other while enjoying the warmth of the beautiful woodstove or outside bonfire (weather permitting) and homemade, healthy snacks. Then, we’ll settle in for a thought provoking, two-day interactive experience that will gently help you dig deeper into your sustainable lifestyle goals.


Your Relaxing Retreat Weekend

“Your Slow Living Retreat was perfectly beautiful, relaxing, delicious, thought provoking, and inspiring. A true gift.” – Kimberly

Set among the Maryland countryside’s luscious rural views, we’ll enjoy exquisite farm-to-table meals and the conversation of a like-minded community of women. With curious hearts and conscious minds, we’ll explore a wealth of information and ideas with Lady Farmer’s Sustainable Living presentations (led by Mary and Emma Kingsley) and numerous workshop opportunities offered by a variety of practitioners and experts. Yoga, nature healing, natural dyeing, natural self-care, fermentation techniques and a mending circle/instruction will all be a part of the weekend.

For those who need to fully turn off and tune in, quiet time amongst the fields, flowers, and beautiful farmhouse allow for reflective thought and quiet journaling.


Come Join Us

“A trail head for me. I was able to walk down paths I’ve never been, but had the great fortune of meeting people along the way with different levels of terrain experience and their own systems of navigation.” – Leslie

All you need to know is here.

Be sure to watch the video below. Excited to join? We can’t wait, either!

Want to sign up now to make sure you get a spot?  

Rooms at Zigbone Farmhouse are comfortable and cozy (all linens are provided), but limited and fill up fast. Though fear not, if you aren’t able to secure on-site accommodations, we have a list of other places to stay in the area that will keep you close by. Zigbone is also within commuting distance of Frederick, DC and Baltimore, and you may also register for full-weekend programming with or without lodging.

Only have time for a day-long retreat? Saturday only tickets will also be available if you can’t come out on Sunday.

A full itinerary will follow as we confirm details.

Read more about last year’s retreat from Creative Countryside. And keep tabs on our Instagram feed for updates on retreat prices, workshop announcements, and speakers!

How (and why!) to Wear the Sustainable Demeter Tunic

How (and why!) to Wear the Sustainable Demeter Tunic

It’s time to bring the most versatile of breezy sustainable garments back into your slow living rotation. With its blend of sustainable hemp, organic linen and hard-working design, our Demeter Tunic is one that Lady Farmers everywhere can’t stop reaching for.

Anna in the Demeter Tunic, in Natural (size Medium)

According to the Victoria & Albert Museum, while the men of the 17th century had pockets sewn directly into their breeches, women had to strap on pockets between layers of their petticoats. When women’s fashion started to favor more slim-fitted designs, women’s pockets became a thing of the past.

Not at Lady Farmer!

The first garment created for our Essential Collection, we named this tunic after the Greek goddess of agriculture. Our wide, deep pockets hold plant clippings and pruning shears, so it’s great for gardening. And for those quick errands, a trip to the farmer’s market or the park, you can always put your hands on your keys, phone, sunglasses and even that bag of toddler snacks!

The Demeter Tunic takes the phrase “hands-free” to a whole new level, and makes a slow living lifestyle that much more streamlined.

a-daily-somethingRebecca (@adailysomething) in the Demeter Tunic, in Gray (size Medium)

Airy, three-quarter sleeves and classic lines define the slightly oversized fit, without overwhelming any Lady Farmer’s shape. With gentle curves and a mid-thigh length, this sustainable tunic works alone on hot summer days or with light leggings so you stay protected from scratching branches or sticky kid fingers. When an extra layer is required, a turtleneck or long sleeved t-shirt makes the tunic an easy, cool weather, go-to choice. It also pairs perfectly with our striped Pomona Pants.

And when your Demeter Tunic does feel the bliss of a dirt smear or jammy kiss? Like all Lady Farmer sustainable garments, it will take a cold wash and can be hung dry or set at a low tumble. (Alpaca wool dryer balls are our favorite addition to a slow living, sustainable laundry routine.)

sustainable-tunicMary in the Demeter Tunic in Gray (size Medium), and Pomona Pants in Pinstripe (size Medium)

Each of our garments are produced with high-quality fabrics created to be as close to nature as possible. Because we believe in true sustainable clothing production and a slow living economy, we produce in small batches and keep inventory stocked at a minimum. Our supply changes as we keep up with your demand! In addition to our garments, we search for the best sustainable lifestyle products to bring into our store because we honor your intention to choose products that are better for you, your family and the planet. Thank you for shopping sustainably!


Ready to shop? Explore The Essential Collection. Or see how Lady Farmers everywhere are wearing it with the #weareladyfarmer hashtag on Instagram.