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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Behind those Walls She Stands

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Recovery work is difficult, there is no doubt.

My struggles and challenges find their way into my works just as often as the triumphs and successes do.

It has been a process.

A journey.

And I have shared it.

Not all of it. But some of it.

I share because I know others must be breaking down their own walls.

I know they are.

And perhaps my story can be of inspiration as they work to break those walls down.

And it is true.

Sharing my story has proved to be valuable to others.

And valuable to myself.

I know there are family, friends, and readers who believe in what I am doing.

They believe in me.

For that I am grateful.

And now I find myself in a strange position.

I have broken down the walls.

I am no longer trapped in.

But I found a startling surprise.

I am now face to face with the girl who built those walls.

She is brilliant. She is hostile and angry. She has a quick whit and a foul mouth. She is 15. She is me.

She did the best she could to overcome all that she was face with.

She was assaulted and raped when she turned 14.

Not long after, she attempted suicide.

She was tired of feeling dead inside.

She smoke pot and stole cigarettes.

She ground her teeth and clenched her fists.

She was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety that something awful would happen because she didn’t prevent it from happening.

Awful things did happen.

People she loved continued to get hurt.

She continued to carry more than she should.

Eventually, she found safe haven in the arms of another.

She loved deeply and gave everything.

She cherished this sense of security.

She found confidence in working.

She found ways to show the world that she was okay, maybe, after all.

She built those walls.

Those walls I just tore down.

She is on the other side of the ruin.

Frightened and confused.

And what can I do?

I broke down the palace she created.

I cannot apologize.

I have to hear her out.

To hear all that she has to say.

With all the hostility and rage and four letter words.

I have to hear her out.

Even though I am scared of what she has to say.

I have to hear her out.

After all, if I don’t, who else will?


Grateful, Indeed

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It has been one year.

One year of being self-employed.

One year of rearranging life.

One year of consciously stepping away from the patterns of overwork I relied upon for 15 years to drown out my thoughts, my emotions, my being.

In that cycle, I was unable to experience being.

I spent my time doing what needed to be done.

And when I wasn’t doing that,

I yearned for something other than reality:

I would say, “I just wish I had the time to…”

or “I wish I didn’t have to…”

or “If I could only…”

I realize now, that by overcoming my tendencies I have become aware of other priorities in life.

There is room for joy.

There is room for relaxation.

There is room to live life.

With all it has to offer.

For there is also room for stress.

And projects.

And even crises that inevitably occur.

And I am grateful.

For gratitude came when noticed all those old “I wishes” were no longer haunting me.

Instead, my reality became sprinkled with a feeling of contentment.

Contentment that allows me to experience my waking moments,

rather than wishing them away.

I am grateful, indeed.


Building Leadership for Local Foods Development

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Building Leadership for Local Foods Development

It is that time of year, when many of us North Dakotans are delighted to find an abundance of fresh produce making an appearance at our farmers market.

Bismarck's newest farmers market, BisMarket

Bismarck’s newest farmers market, BisMarket

Small scale producers and specialty crop farmers are meeting the demand for fresh, locally grown produce with a variety of early crops ranging from farm fresh eggs, baked goods, strawberries, radishes, lettuces, broccoli, and swiss chard.

Farm fresh crops ready for CSA delivery.  Photo by Annie Carlson of Morning Joy Farms.

Farm fresh crops ready for CSA delivery. Photo by Annie Carlson of Morning Joy Farms.

Soon, they will satisfy our craving for tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and peppers as well.

Produce from Dwight Duke's Skyline Ranch stand at the Farmers Market

Produce from Dwight Duke’s Skyline Ranch stand at the Farmers Market

Beyond a doubt, these farmers do amazing work!

Happy Landings Farm stand at the North Prairie Farmers Market

Happy Landings Farm stand at the North Prairie Farmers Market

This is the time of year when the local foods economy of North Dakota really shines. Consumers are increasingly concerned with how their food is produced and where it comes from. New and existing producers have opportunities to grow their business and enter new markets. Each year, there are more farmers markets, producers, and consumer demand. The production of locally grown produce is a growing industry in North Dakota, with unlimited potential for growth and community development.

North Star Farms delivers CSA shares to its customers.

North Star Farms delivers CSA shares to its customers.

However, taking initial steps to grow a business means venturing into unknown territory. A world of information about business planning, market opportunities, marketing techniques, food safety, good agricultural practices, and distribution logistics awaits the aspiring small-scale farmer or farmers market manager. While there are various resources for new and existing producers through the Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture, North Dakota Department of Agriculture Local Foods Initiative, and North Dakota State University Extension Service, many of the specifics details for successful endeavors in the local foods industry are related to the economic situation of each community.

There is a need to build leadership to further develop the role of local foods throughout North Dakota. 

Photo by Sarah Smith Warren

Photo by Sarah Smith Warren

There is an opportunity for you to get involved and do just that!

This year, North Dakota State University Extension Service received funding from the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program to provide training and professional development for community leadership for economic development in local foods.


Do you have an idea or potential opportunity forming in your mind?

Does your community have a local foods project just waiting to take root?

Would this project benefit from enhanced community building and networking among local foods professionals? 

Would you like to develop your leadership skills to better engage with small-scale producers and local foods consumers?

This professional development opportunity is open to educators, farmers and producers, concerned citizens, and food entrepreneurs who are interested in learning to respond to the needs of local small scale farmers specializing in vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese, and meat. Participants may apply individually or as a community team to collaborate through a series of workshops.

Sessions*These topics will be tailored to specifically address the needs of the participants.

During these sessions, participants will develop their local project that supports building the small farm economic community and/or enhancing the role of local foods. They will then receive ongoing support from session instructors and partners as well support dollars to implement their project.

If you or someone in your community is interested in participating in this program, please contact one of the coordinators soon. The sessions begin in August and space is limited. There is no cost for participation and travel stipends are available.

For more information contact one of the following:

Rachel Brazil at

Karen Ehrens at

Abby Gold at

Glenn Muske at

Taking Time and Making Memories

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Taking Time and Making Memories

There are times when time passes with rapid speed. Days fly by, hours slip from our grasp. When this pace goes on for weeks on end, sometimes it takes an effort to take a grasp on life again. Thus the pleasures of living in a small town. Such places can provide unique opportunities to slow down a bit. To feel like perhaps that there is not a need to keep letting time pass us by, but to instead feel it pass through us.

There are so many similarities I find between the small town I live in now and the one I visited my grandparents in as a young child. Granted, the distance between the two is more than 1000 miles. And the population of my grandparents’ rural villa far surpasses where I now reside. But, there is something about the tempo that I cannot help but find accessible… if I take time to listen.

The best place for me to begin slowing down and listening is my garden. This is the third year we have grown a large garden in our backyard and each year it looks different. This year, we have focused on a variety of herbs, tomatoes, and cabbages. This morning I went out to explore what might potentially fit into a scramble of eggs and potatoes. I was please to find an ample amount of chard…


And some garlic scapes to experiment with…


And began to seriously wonder what we are going to do with all this tarragon…


And realized that the tarragon has been growing as fast as the ducks. DSCN8951

And that perhaps all that tarragon would go well with all that duck….

But not today.

After the egg scramble and a little house cleaning, we were off to the Annual Rhubarb Festival at the Eddy County Museum.

Yes, Rhubarb Festival, where the tangy sour stalks of this green leafy plant are honored and transformed into a variety of delectable dishes.





Such a wonderful variety of baked goods and also slush, and soda, and ice cream too.

I admit, I made some rather beastly noises when I first tasted the ice cream. DSCN9151

My husband was lucky that I let him taste a tiny bite before I cleared it off the plate. Because nothing makes me stop and enjoy the moment much more than homemade ice cream. And considering that I recently discovered many of my digestive ills were related to a gluten-intolerance (and most of the rhubarb dishes were baked goods) I am eternally grateful to a fellow gluten-free friend who made a contribution of a gluten-free rhubarb, strawberry, and raspberry pizza. Simply amazing!


And speaking of beastly… we explored another of my loves at the museum. Taxidermy!

Yes, I know I’m weird maybe I spent too many hours with the stuffed loon at my grandparent’s house as a child (and as an adult). But there is something about taxidermy that continues to amaze me. In fact, had I not been accepted into graduate school, I would have sought out training as a taxidermist. But exploring wildlife with a three year old through taxidermy mounts can be an incredible experience.


“Mom, what’s that?DSCN9022

Is it a tye-ote”

“Yes, it is a coyote.”

“It has teeth!”


“And look Mom, it’s a mean cat. A big mean cat. Can we get a cat like that?!”

And on we went…

“Mom, what’s that?”

“That’s fox. And an avocet. And a five-legged lamb. And a two-headed calf.”DSCN9025

And we visited a small boy wearing clothes from long ago. My son wasn’t sure what to think, but I assured him it was not taxidermed.


But I still advised him not to touch the boy, as it might bite.

I don’t think he took me seriously.


I was so amazed at his interest and curiosity in all these old items. “WOW! Look at this!” He said over and over again.




Truly it was worth every moment. To make time to enjoy, explore, and appreciate. To mingle, laugh, and play. To be part of something larger than yourself. To know that these moments that slip through our hands belong not just to us, but to our future as well. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

So when the time came, that my son wanted to go back for another round of rhubarb desserts. What could we say?? After all, it’s the little things it life that make it so sweet.


Special thanks to the Eddy County Museum for putting on an event that gave us a chance a take the time and make some memories, right close to home!