"We are all wanderers on this earth...our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams." ~ Gypsy proverb

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Staunton, VA

Polyface Farms and the Frontier Culture Museum were the two stops we made in the little town of Staunton (pronounced "stanton").

Polyface, owned and family run by
Joel Salatin, has received much attention since appearing in the documentary Food, Inc. . More recently, he was featured in Fresh the movie. If you truly want to know what has happened in the food industry in the last 50 years, and how it has affected our culture,  please watch these films. It takes courage to face these truths, but it is well worth the time.

Mr. Salatin was not at the farm the day we visited. He has quite an extensive speaking schedule since he became the face of successful, responsible and sustainable farming. Tucked away in the hills outside of Staunton, his farm was modest, honest, and observably hard working. It was quite clear that as much notoriety as they have received, the Salatin's have stuck hard and fast to their authenticity, making it clear that they are a"transparent" farm, and we were welcome anywhere on it.

An intern peels ground tomatoes--a hybrid of grapes and tomatoes. A tasty invention.

After leaving Polyface, we ventured to the Frontier Culture Museum in the town of Staunton. This museum offers a look into life in the early 1700's to late 1800's of families that immigrated and first settled in present Virginia, from Ireland, England, West Africa, and Germany. With mock homesteads (including live animals and gardens) from each culture, this farm museum beautifully demonstrates how the American culture arrived from the hard work and survival of these settlements hundreds of years before.

We learned about cloth making and spinning flax, oat cake and bread making, blacksmithing, farming, house building,  and early schooling. We played with handmade wooden toys, listened to live folk music while trying to learn how to square dance. We ground corn and beat down flax. We swept using simple brooms of stick and hay and we fetched water from a water well. More than anything, we learned just how much "starting from scratch" and  what "self sustaining" truly meant for these settlers 300 years ago.  We truly are a spoiled lot.

A look over the field to the English homestead.

The Blacksmith's Lodge

Making nails

Spinning flax.

The feel of wooden German shoes...

Making corn meal.

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“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
~ George Bernard Shaw