It's best to start these stories at the beginning, and my beginning most certainly began with the opening pages of Laura Ingall's Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods. While churning butter may not be the likely dream of a suburban child, my course was set the evening these images began to play across the edges of my mind. My homesteading dreams lay dormant for years as my childhood grew into teenager hood and then to young adulthood in the comfort of suburban Metro Detroit. Frustrated by the lack of “practical” education my life had afforded me, and intrigued by the bits and pieces of food related industry I had worked in throughout my college years (Silvio's Organic Pizza and Tantre farm were the principle players) I headed out for a three month environmental fellowship through a Jewish organization in northwest Connecticut called Adamah, complete with a 4-acre organic farm and a commercial pickle kitchen.
Here my life was forever changed, because what had manifested as angsty regret as a suburban youth was splayed open as a country-livin' adult. I quickly fell into the rhythm of “doing” that defines country life: milking goats, making yogurt, growing food, preserving food, hauling food waste to compost piles and hauling compost to newly planted beds. From beginning to end, I felt deeply moved by the wholeness and fullness of this life, the amount of control it afforded myself and my peers and the amount of daily learning that changed from the exception to the norm.
Becoming enmeshed in the rhythms of homesteading while living in a Jewish community where we lived the weekly rhythms of shabbat and hol (the rest of the week) led me to a deep appreciation of my Torah. Torah, in the broadest, of a teaching and a way of walking in the world. It became a passion of mine to try to bring the DIY food culture and the deep Jewish learning I had experienced at Adamah back to my midwestern home.
I have a masters in Jewish experiential education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, about 7 years of home fermenting experience, and a deep love of Torah.
ShtetlKettle is a home for my classes and my musings on the (neverending) dialogue between transformation and preservation that I experience through Food, Judaism, and daily life.
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