photo by Greg Mider
”Two Internships Available On A Sustainable Farm”—The recent Facebook posting by Greer Farm brought back memories of a similar opportunity that changed my life oh-so-many years ago. Tilling the earth on a craggy spit of land near the Arctic Circle wasn’t in my master plan. To paraphrase singer Joni Mitchell, I was a girly girl with lace along the seams of my pressed jeans. But at 25, I came to the conclusion, after multiple readings of A Moveable Feast, that I wanted—no, NEEDED— to live abroad.
My invitation to adventure arrived in an ornately stamped envelope from The Norwegian Committee For International Youth Work, whose address I’d found at the library. “We are happy to inform you that we have found a place for you on a Norwegian farm…”
That’s all it took. It was April when I resigned from my job-with-a-future and headed to the Land of the Midnight Sun accompanied by a friend, who was also ready for a change. As our northbound train chugged out of Oslo, the frozen scenery was straight out of Dr. Zhivago. After 24 hours on trains and ferries, we reached the island of Dønna and the Ulsnæs family.
Their farmhouse was rickety and remote, but Sigmund, Astrid and their children were warm and sweetly appreciative of the young Texans who’d come so far to help. Sigmund, who’d spent years cooking on a Norwegian cruise ship, had finally saved enough money to buy a farm. Along the stark coastline of tundra and fiords, we cleared fields, planted countless seedlings, built a greenhouse and sold vegetables to the wives of the local fishermen. I learned to drive a tractor and nursed a sick calf. One journal entry reads, “My back aches but what a sense of accomplishment.”
If you could choose a different path, what would it be? At a crossroads, former dental hygienist Janet Z. Capua opened a catering company with her son Carlo. Architect Gary McKibben became a vineyard owner with his son Evan.
When agriculture major Sue Williams couldn’t get a job as county extension agent, she enrolled in medical school. Dr. Williams returned to school in 2009 to learn the craft of making artisan chocolates. Beverly Thomas, once a researcher for a pesticide company, is now an organic farmer, much to the delight of local chefs and her Cold Springs Farm CSA members.
For two years, chefs Janice Provost and Chad Houser have devoted themselves to building Café Momentum, where juvenile offenders can get a new start in the culinary community.
Nanci Taylor, a novice to the publishing world, took a leap of faith when she brought Edible Dallas & Fort Worth to North Texas three years ago. This anniversary issue is our largest to date. We are so grateful to the advertisers whose support enables us to tell these stories.
Greer Farm is a peaceful, bucolic place where, under Sid and Eva Greer’s nurturing guidance, their young interns will thrive and learn new skills. I will always be indebted to the Ulsnæs family for giving me that same opportunity.
– Terri Taylor