Jenn Sattler is a dear friend and one of best people I know. Her love and knowledge of our Earth and her quiet, humble, fierce intelligence and conviction as some things I love most. She is also a very talented author, but that's not really my place to talk about. What I would like to talk to you about is Growing Oshkosh and my interview with Jenn. Please enjoy.
KS: Jen, your sweet and purposeful dedications to the work you do at Growing Oshkosh inspired us to invest more of our time and energy into Earth Keeping. I am so grateful to call you a dear friend and I love that I can talk to you about all things environmental. Thank you so much for agreeing to take this interview. Please share what drew you to your work at Growing Oshkosh? How does this work move beyond the boundaries of the farm?
JS: I was initially drawn to Growing Oshkosh (GO) from a conversation I had with a former professor. I’d expressed interest in teaching individuals about gardening and growing food in new ways as I’d recently discovered the vast amount of information there is on the topic and so I set up a meeting with the founder, Dani Stolley. I began as volunteer, which in turn became an internship that morphed into a job. I love the idea of sharing about plants, which is one of my favorite topics to talk about, and I also have a great love for teaching children, so I was fitting addition to the farm.
Beyond the boundaries of GO, I have a garden of my own, which draws quite a bit of attention from my neighbors (and strangers who happen down our street!), as it’s in our front yard. Food and plants also seem to wriggle their way into my conversations with people, and in some sense, I’m always talking about my work, even if it’s in an indirect way.
KS: How do you nurture your connection to Spirit (i.e., God, the Divine, Jesus, Source)?
JS: There are so many ways to connect. One of the topics my husband and I have discussed in great detail is co-creating with our Creator. As God creates, we (his creation) connect to Him through creating. Gardening, growing plants and seeing life pervade is so humbling for me. Toiling with the soil and plants is one way I find creative expression and it is an opportunity for me to serve and steward what has already been given to me. Another, mostly unrelated way I connect is through writing. Writing allows me to express my imagination where I would be elsewhere limited by the confines of this world. To reach out into the unknown and grapple with the things I find there, draw me closer to God.
KS: What do you love to eat? What sorts of foods have you found give you the most benefit?
JS: Hmm, I am in love with eating fresh food that I’ve prepared, especially if they have some type of ethnic flavor to them. My husband and I eat zero processed (pre-packaged/pre-made/preservative filled) foods, and I’ve found that the fresh prepared and raw foods keep me healthy. As I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), eliminating processed foods, and those with a high sugar content has helped me manage my IBS. Using food as a medicine has been wonderful, because everything I eat helps energize my body, instead of draining it. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with kombucha and using honey in place of all sugar. So far, so good!
KS: What sorts of practices to you do to take care of yourself?
JS: That’s a great question. Um, I eat really well. My job at GO keeps me in shape because I’m constantly moving between the on-farm work and the teaching. Children help me see the humor in life and relieve stress (mostly). I sometimes stretch and practice yoga, but I’m not in any way disciplined about it. Pretty much I garden, move a lot in my daily life, and eat food that tastes great.
KS: You aren't a mama (yet), but you work with kids almost daily at the farm, what do you think is the most important thing to teach children?
JS: A sense of awe, wonder, curiosity. I think children should be encouraged to learn, to see how the things work, and to never be told they can’t ask questions. It bothers me when questions aren’t allowed because that means the child is denied learning something new. So, when I teach at the farm or school gardens, I try to be excited and show students that there is something magnificent and wondrous in all things. Sometimes the smallest thing can be the most exciting, if only one chooses to see it that way.
KS: What music do you love? What do you listen to when you are working on the farm?
JS: Hmm, that varies greatly. Mostly, I listen to alternative (Indie?) music. It can range from Mumford and Sons, Needtobreathe, Of Monsters And Men, Lindsey Stirling, Icon for Hire, Bastille, Propaganda-a flavor of the day kind of thing. I find something I like in most music genres.
KS: What is your favorite book?
JS: I don’t have one, it’s too hard to pick; reading is one of my favorite things. I have great respect for authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Anne McCaffrey, Madeleine L’Engle-they all inspire me. The genres I’m most interested in tend to be nature writing and fantasy/science fiction, because they’re both so imaginative and have such wonderful word choice.
KS: What is your favorite movie?
JS: Again, don’t have one. I like good adventure stories, with an intriguing storyline, but without an excessive amount of gore, violence, or sexual content. So, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, that sort of thing. I guess I like my movies like I like my books, with a great story, strong characters, and a compelling tale. [I sound like a critic, ha].
KS: Can you describe you personal style? What is you single most important piece of clothing for your work?
JS: I feel like I don’t have a style, per say. I’m very basic in my clothing, and I like simple and elegant over lots of effort. I also tend to garden and get in the soil (especially when children are around) without having regard for what I’m wearing, so the simpler, the better. And seasons dictate what clothing is most important: spring/summer: quick dry pants-children tend to water everything around them; fall/winter: a good vest to keep out Wisconsin’s cold! And shoes-sturdy, good shoes are essential!
KS: What are you really excited about right now?
JS: So many things. I’m working on writing my own book-it’s been on and off for a few years, but I’m really getting into it now. (KS: 'ITS AWSOME YOU GUYS!) Also, my husband and I are looking forward to the future when we have our own farm, and we’ve been learning about permaculture and alternative farming systems lately.
KS: What are you currently obsessed with?
JS: Books. Plants. Writing. Homesteading. Adam and I are learning more about simplifying our life and making choices that reduce our impact on the earth. It’s fair to say I’m more obsessed than he is, but it’s been really fun and freeing to reduce what’s in our house and to discover new skills about how to preserve food and lighten our footsteps on the earth. Food is our obsession; we love searching and finding the best food to buy and prepare in the area, all on a tight budget of course.
KS: (this question is because my blog is a yoga blog!, but feel free to answer how ever you wish - its kinda a standard question I ask people I interview, but it may not apply in your case ...) Do you have a yoga practice? Could you talk a little about yoga and some of the benefits you have experienced?
JS: I sometimes have a yoga practice, when I remember to. I’ve never been really disciplined at yoga, but I love the flexibility, mental stability, and focus I get when I practice. For me, I’ve never solidified it as a daily practice, but it’s something I’d like to do at some point in life. Yoga’s so peaceful and refreshing.
KS: Do you have a favorite quote to share?
JS: That’s like asking me to pick a favorite plant, it can’t be just one. As it is: