Eva is a young and beginning farmer growing produce, flowers, and herbs in the Piedmont of North Carolina, along Highway 64 near the town of Staley. She currently owns and operates Heartstrong Farm by herself, marketing mainly through a CSA as well as local farmers markets. The farm is Certified Naturally Grown, and she grows with permaculture and biodynamic methodologies in mind.
Her path in the soil began while volunteering and worshipping at St. Mary’s Convent in Sewanee, TN. After helping to grow lavender there for Thistle Farms, she was inspired to pursue more experiences in the soil, leading her to WWOOF on a permaculture farmstead in New Hampshire, and then on to other gardens and farms in Tennessee, North Carolina, Vermont, and Florida.
Her varied experiences in those climates and communities inspired her to pursue her own farm operation, Heartstrong Farm. We asked her a few questions and here are some highlights from our conversation.
Reflections on why she does what she does, living slow, and Lady Farmers –
Simply put, I do what I do for love. When I first came to working in the soil, I was dealing with a lot of internal hardship and found that the more I literally grew, the more I inwardly healed. My heart became stronger through working the earth, sowing seeds, and harvesting the resulting abundance. The land is so giving, if we do her justice, we receive delicious produce, beautiful blooms, healing medicine, clean air, fresh water, biodiversity, and so much more. I also grow for and because of community. I really believe in the community supported agriculture model of farming, as food is a way to connect with everyone – across all lines. Everyone has to eat! So, as I prepare the soil and seeds for the 2018 harvest, my inspiration is definitely my CSA membership, my farm family.
Slow living to me means presence in action. It means feeling the soil as my hands are in it, hearing the peepers and hawks as I work outside, tasting the richness of earth through root veggies and brightness of sun through supple greens, and enjoying the process of a hard earned pickle or fermented kraut. I do think generally in this life we move too fast – even in the things that bring us joy. So, in my work and in my play I try to really pay attention, learn, and enjoy through my senses. I forget where this quote comes from, but it’s powerful – there’s no need to rush, all will still be waiting. Go slow.
Lady Farmer to me means a woman in the world cultivating the world she believes in. I believe in an environmentally sound community driven local food system, and that is what I strive to cultivate through my farm. I feel that my role in this community has been to connect others at the table, through a shared love of cooking, good food, old stories, the land, and a growing fondness for each other. My role here ties into my vision for the broader world of a connected and natural food system, and I really do believe in thinking globally but acting locally. There’s so much good work to be done everywhere.
Advice for aspiring Lady Farmers
My advice to aspiring lady farmers comes from a prior mentor of mine Sylvia Davatz – the real work is in doing. Ask the questions! If you have an idea, ask others about it. If you need land, put out an inquiry. If you need some financial support, share your project. I have been absolutely blown away by the resources, land, and communal support that has been made available to me as a result of asking, sharing. People certainly have a desire to bless others, so if you can … pursue apprenticeships on farms, access books on the kinds of operations you’re interested in, and connect with others doing the work, I really think you can make your farm dream happen. That’s how it happened for me!
Who inspires you?
My mother, Alice Waters, the Sisters of St. Mary’s, Rep. Chellie Pingree, all my inspiring lady friends – farmers and otherwise!
Thank you Eva!