Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Preserving Mountain Homesteads

I was doing some research last night and stumbled across a website. A woman named Vera Guise has been able to buy back some of her family's original homestead in the North Carolina mountains. Not only are they working at returning the land to a mountain homestead (non-profit) but they are also working to teach others. Here is a quote from their site:
A board of trustees provides guidance and support in crafting a 21st Century vision for this 19th century mountain farmstead, a vision that includes:
· Outdoor education and heritage/cultural arts experiences for mountain youth. Look for information coming soon about summer youth opportunities and cultural events you don’t want to miss this!
· A farm and folk-life center featuring an authentic living history farmstead, raising organic heirloom fruits and vegetables, and demonstrating such early farm and home tasks as churning butter, making molasses, canning fruits & vegetables, spinning, quilting, splitting shakes, and keeping bees for honey.
· A Spirit of Appalachia Farm & Folk School where mountain families can learn those forgotten skills the world, now at our door, yearns for-- a bit of the past when the pace of life was slower, the trees greener, the air cleaner, and the people friendly and authentic. It is time local people, old and young, had the opportunities and the resources to regain these lost skills and knowledge, arming themselves to succeed in today’s economy— now called agri-tourism and heritage-tourism. Yes, it’s way past time that mountain youth could keep and practice the unique features of their heritate with pride, AND advance themselves academically AND hold onto the family farm, and using those special sets of skills and knowledge to support themselves and their families. THIS would be mountain living at its best!

WOW ~ I am so utterly blown away!! I was moved to near tears to find this site and to see what they're doing (they offer youth camps among other things). Truly I can not accurately express how happy finding this site has made me.
The stigmatism of the mountain homestead and Appalachian way of life (hillbillies) is actually laughable. I say this because if you were really to know anything about that way of life you'd be able to see the wisdom of it, the beauty of it. It is a stigmatism based in ignorance and "outsider" mentality, those too busy thinking they're better than everyone else, that they know more than everyone else, to take the time to experience things that are foreign, different, or new to them. It's easier to dismiss it all and put it down that to take the time to learn about it a little bit.
Justin and I are dedicated to raising our boys to know the Earth and the world around them. To approach things with open eyes and open minds. To not worry about dirty "hippie" feet. We are blessed to have friends with similar missions in life. Here is a favorite picture of mine: Shannon playing in the Doyen's chicken coop with Max & Sam. The chicken they're holding is a flock favorite, and a big inspiration for us in deciding to acquire our own chickens. We're hoping to breed one of our hens with this particular chicken.
Here is a picture that Vera just sent me today. It is one of several, but it moved me beyond belief to see. I LOVE this photo!! It says so much without saying a thing (a mountain trait I suppose):

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