Updated: Mar 17
For this new farm in Scotland- a farm is more than just a place to grow food or to live. It is a place to learn and to share with the people around you the lessons the earth teaches.
Most families wouldn’t mind their kids getting off their devices and into fresh air, but Larkin of Soul Leaf Permaculture Retreat in Scotland wants more than just “tech breaks.” She wants to see kids getting their hands in the soil, collecting eggs from a nesting box, and learning how to prepare food they grew themselves. That’s the heart behind this newer farm venture that recently moved to the area from Rhode Island.
Though Larkin will be having a CSA that local folks can subscribe to, and will be opening a farmstand this spring, the real root of the work she is doing is found in growing things that last. This is why she is turning the 15-acre property her family lives and farms on into a permaculture forest, why she homeschools her 5 kids (soon to be 6!) with education immersed in agriculture, and why she offers youth and adult programming that offers a safe environment to explore and build social connections and knowledge about food sources. These are seeds she is planting that will last much longer than the tomatoes coming in from the field.
It literally is the beginning of planting too. Fruit trees are being put in the ground that will produce in a few years' time, perennial plants (that are also food sources) need to become established before harvesting, animals she is raising will need to grow before they can provide milk or meat. These all take time, but Larkin doesn’t mind the wait. She knows all this will eventually provide for her, just as she is providing for her plot of land as it comes to
its full realization.
And it’s the same with the children that are gutting and descaling fish they just caught off the property in her “Into the Earth” homeschool Coop and programming. They may not be ready to go home and feed themselves off the land just yet, but in the years to come, she hopes that some of them will be farmers, foresters, preservationists, and advocates for the land. She knows this is also the slow growing fruit of her labor.
The slowness doesn’t seem to put people off from her unique approach to her farm, either. Rather, it draws people in and Larkin has found that she is raising not just children, a business, and a bunch of plants and animals, but she is also tending to a community that gathers and supports her and others they meet through her programs. And they are providing the nurture and care that she needs, just as much as the soil and sun feed her plants.
So as Larkin and her family build their food forest, their community and their business, it may not take the traditional approach of “return on investment,” but we are sure that their return will be overflowing- in people, in knowledge, and in the bounty that the land will give back after the years of care have taken root.