So much goodness headed your way in March with issue 17:: MYTH!
Spread some cheer this winter with these new free downloads! Whether it’s baking up some fruitcake to gift or making some pretty trimmings for your tree, you are going to love these recipe cards, gift tags & ornament craft we’ve just added.
Check it out:
2015 Gift Tags
Home Sweet Home Paper Houses from Issue 16:: SHELTER
Old-Fashioned Fruitcakes by Kirsten K. Shockey from Issue 12:: BREAD
Sugar Plum Pancakes by Demetria Provatas from Issue 16:: SHELTER
P.S. don’t forget the Holiday Pop-Up shop is now open and selling out fast!
The Taproot Holiday Pop Up Shop will be opening December 3rd! We’re proud of the selection of hand-picked, handmade and artisanal goods that we have brought together and hope that, regardless of whether you choose to buy, you’ll take a look at each maker’s story highlighted on their product’s page. They are all interesting and talented people creating things of beauty and quality. Remember, supplies are limited and we won’t be restocking, so shop early for best selection.
Spreading the Taproot love at the Common Ground Fair! A wonderful time was had by all and we’re pleased to have many new subscribers on board.
It was a weekend filled with wonderful food, friends and a generous helping of autumn cheer.
amanda, stacy, sarah, meredith, and rhiannon ~
Our bags are packed and we’re ready to go to the fair! We’ll be at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine this weekend, in our usual spot (the media area). Be sure to stop by to say hello, check out our latest issue, and see our new offerings of tees and totes and mugs and more. We hope to see you there!
~ amanda, meredith, sarah, and rhiannon
“As my relationship with these amazing plants deepens, I realize that they are imbued with the energies of the places where they grow. When we use them as medicine we are connecting to these environmental forces in order to bring our bodies back into balance. The sun—fire, light, yang—is one of the most important energies in herbal medicine, and along with the more cooling Yin herbs, I am thankful that the plants offer these to us in so many healing forms: to uplift and bring joy, to energize, to warm, to cleanse and to renew.” – Ryan Blosser, Trevor Piersol & Dr. Ted Butchart
Sweet as Honey
“Our first hive had a place at our wedding reception. It was marked off by caution tape so that errant children wouldn’t get too close, but the bees buzzed freely through the flower beds in my parents’ garden as our guests mingled and sprawled in the grass with their potluck fare. Back then, we had no idea that bees would end up playing a central role in our lives and in our relationship.” – Camille Storch
Four & Twenty Blackbirds: a pie-making community
“I stopped by Four & Twenty Blackbirds. I tried the pies I’d seen first-hand, amazed at the Black Bottom Oat—a sweet brown sugar custard topped with chewy oats and a melt-y chocolate bottom—then the light caramel sweetness of the Salted Caramel Apple with the spiced apples and the flaky, flaky, butter-y, pie crust with lattice top. Fast-forward two years, a bread-baking apprenticeship in British Columbia behind me and suddenly I’m living in Brooklyn. My hobby of photographing my baked things has become my daily work and I’m working in Manhattan.” – Demetria Provatas
Hosting a Red Tent Retreat
“Girls should feel positively, blatantly cared for. They should be supported openly by every member of the family, especially when they are moving through this rite-of-passage and becoming young women. Nothing about a young woman’s experience should be considered shameful, and offering her a safe and nurturing environment to learn about menstruation and talk about the changes in her body, mind and emotions is the best way to help our daughters enter into womanhood.” – Holly Bellebuono
“Tucked in between a bakery-cafe and a shop selling tour packages on the main street of Ubud, Bali is a small and worn shop set back from the road, with plant dyed fabrics and handmade batiks flapping in the breeze on makeshift drying racks out the front. We kick off our shoes outside the door and step up into the shop, and call out hello. From behind an indigo batik curtain pops the very smiley and excited face of our friend Nofel. His wife Erna is laying on a mat on the tiled floor beside her baby son Kabir who is napping by the fan. It is very hot and humid. We all grin and greet each other.” – Em Falconbridge & Nicole Lawrence
My Life at Fosen Folk School
“There is a place, a place where we dig in the soil, sail in handmade wooden boats, dance in a ring, weave, and carve, and hike, and sing.” – Lily Bell
“I’ll watch him and think how careful people are these days. We’re wary of too much sun and of ticks, chemicals on our skin and in our food that go running off into the streams, and all of the other all-too-real stressors of the times. I watch a man who has had his hands submerged in gasoline and oil for most of his eighty years. A guy who, along with a wide variety of wild caught fish, deer, turkey and the like, eats largely from cans and boxes and whatever is convenient and easy for him. He‘s heard of all the dangers from watching his share of the nightly news, but he mostly shrugs it off and chalks it up to the ridiculousness of government and the futility of trying to fight the man.” – Steve Soule (with photos by Meredith Winn)
If you haven’t heard, our latest issue, FOLK is now shipping! If you’re a subscriber, look for your copy in your mailbox soon, along with a special subscriber bonus. (If you’re subscription has lapsed, don’t worry! We’ll ship the bonus to you too if you subscribe while supplies last.)
Check out FOLK for more details on what you’ll find inside the pages.
(Photographed above is the original cover artwork, by Phoebe Wahl, before final design.)
We’re happy to be hosting Phoebe Wahl as she joins us on the East Coast in celebration of the release of her first children’s book, Sonya’s Chickens. Come on by to Longfellow Books, in Portland, Maine to say hello to Phoebe and the Taproot crew! (Bring the whole family – it’ll be a casual affair, including a reading of the book at 6:30pm!) Thursday, September 17th at 6pm
1 Monument Square, Portland Maine We hope to see you there! ~amanda
We are sorry for an inconvenience, but this event has been cancelled!
Our popular tees – Feminism is Freedom and Support Local Farmers (with art by Phoebe Wahl) – are back in stock for adults, and in new colors! Take a peek over at our Shop to snag your own.
We had the great pleasure of attending the Newport Folk Festival this past weekend as an exhibitor in their new Maker’s Market. The three-day festival held true to all the stories I’ve heard of it, and then some. An absolutely amazing lineup of music, a beautiful setting, and one of the most friendly and lovely crowds possible. Most interesting to me was the organic way in which the organization honors its past, preserves its history, all while not being afraid to move forward and greet change. It was a treat for us to be in a new spot, meet so many new people and introduce folks to Taproot Magazine. Thank you, Newport! We are already looking forward to 2016!
~amanda (and Steve)
After our visit to the Mother Earth News Fair, we went north to Bellingham, Washington. There, Phoebe Wahl and I were happy to host a Craft Night at the Ragfinery. Ragfinery is a non-profit organization selling upcycled fabric, notions and more. They also offer classes, workshops, and space and tools for use. I was excited to see all the good things happening there, and grateful to them for opening their doors to us for a crafty night of fun!
With stellar food by Ciao Thyme and gorgeous smelling sweet pea flowers from contributor Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers, the setting was just right for all the crafting that happened. We’re thankful to all of you who came out to say hello and share your art and craft with us that night – from rug hooking to embroidery, knitting and crochet, painting and more. What a pleasure to connect in person over our handwork.
We had a wonderful time on the West Coast, starting with our first time attending the Mother Earth News Fair in Albany, Oregon. Thanks to all of you who found us to say hello, and thanks to all the new folks who stopped by to visit and learn a little more about Taproot!
With the help of contributors Phoebe Wahl and Demetria Provatas in the booth, we were able to each spend time wandering around and attending some of the great lectures and talks given by the talented team of presenters at the fair. We were especially thrilled to meet some of them who happened to be contributors of ours, whom we had yet to meet in person! Kirsten and Christopher Shockey, frequent contributors of fermented goodness, as well as future contributor, Camille Storch (look for her work in the upcoming issue FOLK).
In addition, it was a pleasure to meet Joel Salatin, someone I’ve long admired. Plus, all those adorable kids – both goat and babies. And baby chicks, and 4-H students, and oh so much more.
Thanks, Mother Earth News for a great weekend full of information, education, entertainment, and new faces. We look forward to the next one, in West Bend, Wisconsin, August 8-9. Maybe we’ll see you there?
Taproot, born and raised here on the East Coast is headed to the West Coast! I am so excited for the adventure ahead – coming up in just a few days – as I look forward to meeting some of our stockists, many of our contributors, and hopefully lots of you readers too! Read below for some details on where you can find us…..
Mother Earth News Fair
Linn County Expo Center,
Phoebe Wahl and I (Amanda) will be in booth #2710 in the Williamette Event Center. We’ll have plenty of Taproot goodies to share at special fair prices. Please come say hi!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Monday, June 8
An Afternoon in the Park Meet Up!
Mount Tabor Park
This is a super casual, low-key meet and greet in the beautiful green of Mt Tabor Park. Bring your picnic and some yarn (or children or art or whatever you’d like to keep your hands busy), and join Phoebe and I for what I hope will be a lovely sunny afternoon, (Weather permitting.) I was unable to reserve the sheltered Picnic Site A (pictured above), so let’s meet on the grass right nearby.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
After that, we’ll be heading North where we’ll be joined by Demetria Provatas for an Open Craft Night at the Ragfinery in Bellingham, Washington. Please come, bring your handwork and good cheer, and join us for some light snacks and good conversation.
See you soon, West Coast!
Another year has flown by, possibly quicker than its predecessors if that’s possible. Although we are still working with this year’s issues of SONG, WILD, FOLK, and SHELTER, we are already looking onwards to the 2016 season. It is a great pleasure to announce Taproot’s upcoming 2016 issues:
For details on submitting to Taproot, please visit our submissions page. We love hearing your stories!
“Uva Turnbull (1895 -1970)… started her hobby of collecting soil samples on a trip she took through Missouri and down to Texas. Eventually, she had over 100 scoops of dirt from
every state in the Union and from such faraway places as Newfoundland, Greenland,
about 800 miles from the North Pole, Africa, France and England.”
—Evelyn Birkby, trustee of the Fremont County Historical Society in Sidney, Iowa
I wanted to go to Iowa because the landscape I live in resembles punched pillows and rumpled bed quilts after a thrashing night of insomnia and I wanted to see its opposite; I wanted to feel the vast flatness, experience the taut sheets of king-sized openness, to drive through a Sahara of soil: through Ohio, across Indiana, into Illinois and Iowa, the heart land, but most of all, I wanted to lay eyes upon Uva Turnbull’s collection of dirt.
Not just any dirt, but 159 cream jars of dirt from around the world on display for all to see in Sidney, Iowa.
As a subsistence farmer, I grow food, and in doing so I touch, dig, destroy, consume and remake soil. Moreover, as Karl Hammer, owner of Vermont Compost Company, says: I am walking soil.
And he is walking soil.
Are you reader, walking soil? Yes, you are walking soil.
What Karl is saying is that not only do we come from soil, and to soil we’ll return, but even in the present moment: we are the expressive form of soil. Even his license plate reads: ONESOIL
A few weeks before I leave for Iowa, I speak to the sultan of soil as we sit in his “office” under an exuberantly blue sky, in 19 degree air crisped with brisk gusts: wicked cold. We climb up to the topmost bark bed on his hillside. Karl scoops out a fanny sized nest of bark, releasing a great exhale of wintergreen-fragrant steam. He settles in, as if he were sinking into the bathtub, pronouncing, “I could live on a bark pile,” followed by, “I do live on a bark pile,” followed by mention of where he’s to be interred, (bark, of course) with instructions, “And please, don’t turn me.” I shimmy in beside him, and soon my butt feels like a spud baking in the oven, so I shift to my knees as we study the terraced landscape around us, a maze of windrows where food waste, manure, and barkchips are fast-tracked into premium compost, beautiful friable soil.
To Karl the world is one big dirtball where nutrients slosh around. He sees rivers of nutrients sliding into grocery stores in the form of all the stuff that fills the shelves; and then he sees rivers of nutrients washing out into the parking lot, packed into cars and then he sees rivulets of nutrients leaking out of neighborhoods into landfills. He sees gravity pull down mountains into particles that silt up rivers, and rivers that carry a billion Edens of dirt to the sea.
And whereas Karl spends most of his time accumulating and compiling the materials to make One Soil right behind the house where he lives, his converse, Uva Turnbull, left her Iowa farm, equipped with a trowel and a jar, collecting each specimen on numerous family trips. Her project wasn’t to make one soil, but to have a little piece of all of it.
I first learned of Uva’s soil collection in a tiny article in a farming newspaper my neighbor loaned me one evening. Her son, then five, began a tantrum over the newspaper, so I handed it back.
Later that evening I googled “Dirt Sidney Iowa” which yielded one contact: Evelyn Birkby. I called and no one answered. Undaunted, I plotted the trip. I wanted to leave after the threat of pipes freezing, but before the full throttle of growing grass, the burgeoning garden, the North Country jumping out of dormancy. Poet James Galvin calls early April, “the stunned little interval” –this would be my window of opportunity. With a specific destination and a general direction set, next I cast about for a companion. Three weeks before I left I met Charlie through a friend of a friend of a friend. Marisa, my neighbor said, “Don’t be mad that I got you this guy’s business card.”
In our first conversation, Charlie said, “Iowa! I was born there. Can I come?”
Walt Whitman, a Long Island man, lit out for parts west and south in 1848 when he was hired by a newspaper called the New Orleans Crescent. To get there he traveled by train, stagecoach, and steamboat, returning some years later via the Great Lakes.
His literary achievement, a sequence of poems titled, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855, and in it one finds not just long- limbed poems celebrating the variety and complexity of America, but a spirituality that is both gritty and transcendent. He writes:
I will show that whatever happens to anybody, it may be tuned to beautiful results
… And I will show that nothing happens more beautiful than death.
How can the real body ever die and be buried?
…My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air.
…The smallest sprout shows there is really no death.
And if ever there was it led toward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it.
Walt Whitman, by Hammer’s terms anyway, was singing soil.
And had Walt doffed his hat, then scrunched into the sedan with his rucksack to come with us, he might have penned new lines, verse beginning much as his previous did:
On journeys through the states we start
How curious! How real!
Underfoot the divine soil…
Forever and forever—longer than the soil is brown and solid…
And then he might have celebrated the men and women of America, 150 years after his first encounter, his incantation running something like:
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear:
The Ohio truck driver boasting a million career miles driven.
The hostess smoking by the lilacs, warning: you can’t take your dog in there.
The Indianan and his retriever, Einstein, suggesting the Best Western over the Motel 6.
The Illinois hog finisher at the gas station asking, You’re not from PETA are you?
And the Spanish teacher in Iowa wondering if his wife will ever love America.
Walt might have reveled in this opportunity to record the new news from the roadsides, as he once declared, Whoever you are/ To you endless announcements!
He would have reveled in:
Great Buy: Make it Pork;
Welcome to Delphos: family community opportunity;
Vote yes on issue 2; Miller and Coors lite pack $10.99;
Fresh brown eggs $1.50 dozen;
Dan Quayle Birthplace
and Indian Museum;
Sharfer for Sherriff;
Coke $1 any size;
Vote Drinski prosecutor;
Kentland, IN: where agriculture and industry meet;
Birthplace of George Ade—the buckle of the corn belt;
Crescent City: small city with a big spirit;
He would have heard music in:
The Cowbird perched on roadside cross singing:
Welcome to Chenoa: Crossroads of opportunity;
Blazing fast internet $14.95; 86 pounds lighter and loving life;
And the Robin atop a stop sign singing:
Private dancer now open
And two meadowlarks in Clarinda singing with a redwing perched on the sign for Pioneer Park:
True Life Taxidermy; Windmill for sale $200;
And a starling on a yield sign singing:
Bad Boys Bail Bond—
your freedom is our business;
Matt Tebbs for Sherriff;
When we got to Ohio we found the rumpled landscape ironed out. Anything vertical was an event. A tree was an event. The world became one endless cinnamon brown expanse with an epaulette of trees, a corsage of trees at best; the vastness acted as a vacuum against our windshield. The bushel basket of my universe lost its hoop, its sheaves splattered open. I felt prone, revealed, like a weevil roving an almost empty table; once I counted eleven homesteads, surrounding us like numbers on a clock, each a mile away, and I am sure of it, that there were eleven, not possibly fourteen or twenty —because everything, everything was evident. When we hit a crossroads and stopped: looking north—infinity; looking south—infinity.
The beige dust blew across us, lifted from fields by tractors discing in last season’s corn stubble. Spring and the face of the earth was lifted up and tuned over, whole counties of sod tilted on its head, sprayed with anhydrous ammonia, seeded with corn and soybeans, by mansion sized vehicles, moved by a single man. His few hours on his few thousand acres—a diabolical miracle.
Occasionally we saw the focused work of a dust devil, dervishing in the field—as if a tree got loose and pirouetted…inimical of the tractors’ work, only doing it less methodically, doing it beautifully.
Why, then, were we driving through the exposed heart of the heartland, surrounded by all the dirt we could ever want to see, headed to look at someone’s collection of bottles of sod?
I can’t answer that now.
On the morning of the fourth day we drove into the sleepy Sidney, Iowa. There were no signs indicating a museum so we drove over to the rodeo arena, billed as “The greatest Show on Dirt” and found it deserted save one beefy man discarding an empty charcoal briquette bag. We asked, “Excuse us, but where’s the dirt museum?” He looks stunned. The what? He said he’d lived here all his life and had never heard of such. And then he stared at his boot, Wait a minit—you must mean the Lois Hill Museum over by the interstate, towards Omaha.
Well, according to the retired couple Stanley and Shirley, who volunteer once a month at the Visitor Center, No, this is not the dirt museum, but they do have some dirt we can take a look at, seeing as how we drove so far to see some. Shirley retrieves a bucket of the special soil beneath the interstate and the roots of corn and the parking lot where our car hunches like a jackrabbit taking a breather.
The tan loess (pronounced like luss, less or Lois) feels like a handful of baby powder. Its fine grains are made of glacially milled feldspar, quartz and mica. These soils, though not inherently rare, have accumulated in mammoth swaths in only a few places, the Hunagtu Plateau near the Yellow River Basin in China and here, where the Missouri River divides Nebraska from Iowa.
After the initial glacial churning and milling, winds blew loess dust into great dunes and swales. The three major episodes of deposition include: the pretty old dirt of Peoria Loess (12,500 to 21,000 years old), the thickest and most common loess in Iowa; the very old dirt of the Pisgah Formation (24,000 to 42,000 years old); and the freakin’ ancient Loveland Loess, (which strikes me as a poignant statement, as well as an era: Love, Land, Loss, or the three word synopsis of my essay) which accumulated 140,000 to 160,000 years ago.
This is a colossal story, albeit somewhat dull, of dust in the wind for damn near 50,000 years.
It’s so easy to let the soft powder pour from my palm into Charlie’s, and it is so hard to grasp its immortal formation.
“And have you seen these?” Shirley says offering a plate of knob sized objects. Charlie and I fondle the small eggs of loess kinderchen, German for “children” or “chicks,” formed when water leaches out the calcium carbonate from the soil grains.
They’d dent the body if you pelted a truck with them. Charlie asks behind Shirley’s back, “Isn’t this stone?”
Meanwhile Shirley’s husband, Stanley, sits at a broad table prodding puzzle pieces. The picture on the box is of a white church in Sharon, VT. I ask him about his life, and learn: While Walt Whitman was writing Leaves of Grass, Stanley’s grandfather was hitching his mule, driving a plough into the Iowa sod, raising 300 acres of corn. Stanley’s father doubled the farm and grew it to 600 acres, until Stanley took over and doubled it again, and again, and again: trading his mules for tractors Stanley planted and harvested 3000 acres. I had to ask: And your son? How many acres does he farm? He farms 6000 acres.
I see E Pluibus Unum and its opposite. From many one, as in the indigenous prairie sod has at least 300 species of plants. But there is less than one percent of one percent of virgin prairie left, and it’s mostly in cemeteries, as Whitman would call it, the “beautiful uncut hair of graves.”
However, one corn seed can reproduce itself 700 times from a single ear of corn in one growing season. Three hundred prairie plants usurped for one plant.
After pawing the loess soil, hefting the kinderchen, and browsing some dusty exhibits, I ask, Have you heard of Evelyn Birkby? Oh yes. Mind if we use your phone?
Evelyn’s husband tells us she’s at the beauty parlor getting her hair done, call back in an hour.
Well where are you? Evelyn asks, thinking maybe we could set up a time to meet next week. Uh, we’re here. Well, then.
We pick her up at her house, (white house with black shutters) on Maple street, since now her husband has the car, and, oops, the key to the museum. Edna, a Trustee, who works at the Law Office brings over a spare and lets us into The Freemont County Historical Museum, which is officially closed and under renovation.
The museum is in disarray (That’s putting it nicely). It looks like a multifamily yard sale. And in the corner, beyond the horse drawn hearse and the frontier woman’s tin speckleware, there it is: in what looks like a spice rack, all the jars of soil. In the dim light, they look like turmeric, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg. Each labeled jar contains two spoons full, (or perhaps, thinking adventurously: a mouthful). I have just driven three days and 989 miles, through seven states, almost to Nebraska, crossing 14 rivers to witness: 159 mouthfuls, a spice rack’s worth of dirt, yes.
France had one specimen. France—all 67,464,300 hectares of of it, represented by this cream jar. A synecdoche—when one stands for all, this palm-able jar: France. Another simply said: Wyoming. You might think all of Wyoming’s soil would be just as this.
Yet another says: “Eishima Island where Ernie Pyle was killed 40 miles by plane from Okinawa,” and its contents are dark as poppy seeds. Grave soil as if to assert, Here, exactly, nowhere else.
And so it goes on this way:
Louisiana’s paprika soil
Ozarks’ peachy tan
Georgia’s cinnamon- cola colored
(and Kansas, and Kentucky, and Winnipeg…)
Frankenstein Castle’s bits of black twig, chocolate crumbs
Woodrow Wilson Flower Garden, in Staunton, VA, a grey silt, like ground pepper
Boone Ledges, Iowa, a wood -ash colored silt
Iwo Jima spot where two flags were raised, some fine brown grains
Evelyn confesses, “When they donated it, I said we don’t want it. Why would we want a bunch of dirt? It’s just dirt.”
But now she waits patiently as I take notes, and I sense her proprietary concern, what if I slipped a bottle into my purse?
As I am cupping the jar marked, “Bottom of a well 141 feet deep Feb 7, 1958,” she says, “I keep thinking what if you dropped it?”
Uva said of acquiring the collection, “People think something big is afoot when they observe you painstakingly collecting a soil sample from their road side or field.”
My great grandparents saved their plastic orange pill bottles for me to fill with sand from various beaches. The idea of parsing the universe, comparing sands’ hues and textures, was nullified by the translucent plastic: lined up in a row, it all looked like orange sand.
Edna said her eldest brother kept a bottle of soil from the dust bowl. Their soil was black and this soil, the soil blown into their life, was red.
In each bottle there is the implied action of searching, finding, and crouching to collect. Each is an artifact of a brief relationship, Walking Soil reaching toward the planet Earth.
And returning with the evidence.
Again, in general terms:
the coarse sand of Lake Superior rattles in on the glass;
Thule, 800 miles from North Pole, is like a collection of rocks;
Tower Isle, Jamaica, contains red-brown nuggets;
and specific terms:
Delaware, Near Capitol has golden pollenish grains;
Silver Mine, Taxco, Mexico are like little chips of bacos.
It’s like looking through a family album of dirt.
Suddenly I regret not bringing a sample from my silty land in Vermont. I could have offered some bran colored dirt to round out this united nations of terrains. But then, how would I have labeled it?
According to the Lamoille County Soil Survey, “Soils differ in texture…slope, stoniness, salinity, wetness, degree of erosion…a soil series is divided in to soil phases…” The kinds of soils within 50 miles of my homestead have decidedly British names: including Adams, Allagash, Berkshire, Boothbay, Borohemists, Coulton Duxbury, Croghan, Fragiaquepts and Haplaquepts, Hamin, Histic Fluvaquents, Londonderry-Stratton, Lyman Tunbridge, Marlow, Ondawa (the exception), Peacham, Peru, Podunk (yes, really), Potsdam, Ricker Peat, Rumney, Salmon, Scantic Variant, Searsport Muck, Stratton- Londonderry, Swanville, Teel silt loam, Tunbridge, Udifluvents and Walpole.
Soul of Soil or: Why Does This Matter?
Or in lieu of teaspooned dust from my garden, what if I had brought instead the soil of a loved one, say, a cream jar marked, “Uncle Chris.”
We had argued over where to put him, my bachelor uncle. Some of us thought his ashes should be halved, to install some of him in Philadelphia where he was born, and grew up, where his original family still lives…and scatter the rest of him in the Rockies, near Boulder, his chosen home. My dad, as his brother and in some ways father, felt that to halve his ashes would dilute him, abstract him in a way, such as to lose him beyond even death. Their father, Pete, an ephemeral presence even during their childhood, had made his own funeral arrangements, instructing a cremation and dispersal so that no one, not even my father, knows exactly where Pete’s dusts were loosed or perhaps dumped.
Thus Chris’ ashes were wholly interred at Cavalry Cemetery in West Conshohocken near Philadelphia. So now we can all say: Here he is, like Ernie Pyle 40 miles by plane from Okinawa, he is here, exactly, for eternity.
Like Uva can say here—here is France.
“The sea is, in fact one ocean, one ocean with five great names and a thousand little ones…”
—Alan Villiers Oceans of the World (1963)
On March 24th, 2009, the New York Times published an article by Carol Kaesuk Yoon about the world’s largest known colony of clonal social amoebas. Scientists had found a 40-foot patch in Texas consisting of billions of genetically identical individuals oozing around and behaving cooperatively in a cow pasture near Houston. The significance of this macro-patch of micro-organisms cooperating as a whole, “raises the possibility that cells might evolve to organize on much larger spatial scales.”
Though the patch was short lived—“just one week later it rained a lot and then it was basically gone.” Dr. Manifred Sliwa at the University of Munich, one of the scientists consulted for the article said, “I used to joke that there might be a giant organism in the soil spanning the entire continent and where ever you dig up a shovelful you get a giant piece of it.”
This is what I think Walt’s song is about: infinite nature, expressed temporarily, as specific beings. As he attests: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”
Therefore in his immensity he includes Karl, the husband of Onesoil; and he contains Uva, the farmwife curator of distinctive dirt.
Does he contradict himself? Very well he contradicts himself, for he also contains my uncle, reduced to an urn, and my grandfather, freed to the air.
And which camp do I belong to: generous visionary or proprietary connoisseur? Is my reverence, my brand of understanding, particular or galactic?
Uva lived in the spacious place of Iowa, so maybe encountering dirt by the spoonful served her purpose of managing overwhelm, whereas Karl lives in the rumpled blankets, the knees and shoulders of northern Vermont, maybe for him the whole totality of soil alleviates the oppression of tilting hills.
Whitman ends his poem ‘Song of Myself,’ the big hymn in Leaves of Grass with:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want to find me again, look for me under your bootsoles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean. But I shall be good to you nevertheless and filter and fiber your blood. Failing to fetch me one place keep encouraged. Missing me one place search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you.
How do we behave if we recognize land as the source of our being: whether as teaspoons or as one planet-sized dirtball; how do we behave if we recognize we, in our human form are a phase of soil’s endless formations?
On the drive back Charlie and I decide to switch places. We pull off to the side of a county road beside an endless field in Indiana. The corn has germinated, and rows of green sprouts flicker. As we stand beside the car for a moment, the stillness and vastness obliterate a sense that there is anywhere else but Here. In the hush we imagine what it would be like to quit this road trip and stick ourselves like scarecrows amid the field, what would it feel like to rise incrementally from the dust as a stalk of corn? Or to be the soil that feels the clench of roots?
We stop for the night near Brunswick, Ohio. As we stretch our legs, behind the motel, tramping around the undeveloped plot, its orange-red soil gunks up our boots.
The next morning, at Charlie’s insistence, we stop at Lake Erie to fill a glass jar with its sediments.
Back home in the buxom version of Iowa, the stunned little interval is over, the lawn, shaggy. I pull on my boots still gummed from the ramble behind the motel. I wear the orange clay of Ohio into the dewy pasture in Vermont, as one “here” meets another “here,” and I am the walking next installment of it all.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
One-hundred-fifty-nine Spoonfuls of One Soil, written by Julia Shipley, was first published in the pages of Taproot, Issue 1 :: SOIL.
What holds us to our gardens is the constant gift of slow change and evolution throughout a season: a surprise, a gift, a little joy. A flower-cutting garden will keep growers supplied with gifts of living goodness all summer long. Don’t get rid of your vegetable garden, but embrace flowers as well. The gift of food is practical and maternal; a flower is the gift of a lover: symbolic, artistic, embarrassingly flirtatious. Once started, be careful—flowers and flower-growing can become an addictive habit and they might insist on more and more space in your garden beds.
Adding flowers to the garden mix allows for the chance to rotate garden beds out of produce for a season. Rotation breaks pest cycles, balances soil fertility, and allows the gardener to express her creativity with each new season. With a few exceptions, most of the produce grown in the garden comes mainly from five plant families: cucurbits, brassicas, alliums, solanaceous, and legumes. Flowers present us with dozens of other plant families, allowing the benefit of a beautiful rotation from produce to flowers.
Everything vegetables like—full sun, well-drained soil, and good air circulation—flowers also like. If the flowers are not being planted into an existing garden space, the start of a cutting garden requires the inevitable early planning decisions about placement and size. Initially, the size of the garden should not match one’s enthusiasm but rather a realistic estimate of the amount of time the grower will be able to devote to it. Flower growing can be an easy habit to slip into, but only if the work remains manageable. Besides the work of preparing and planting the space, the gardener will be picking from the garden twice weekly, as with cherry tomatoes or green beans.
The flower garden will look great next to your vegetable plot, but do not expect it to be a glorious showstopper. The cutting garden’s purpose is to be cut. It will be planted in rows, much like a vegetable garden. In order for the plants to keep producing, the blooms must be removed regularly. The purpose of the cutting garden is not to be beautiful in its own right, any more so than its cousin the vegetable garden. Both are the source of natural gifts and the gardener should feel no inhibition in cutting into a big healthy plant, and building gorgeous displays for the house.
This annual flower garden primer will focus on springtime work: forming beds, building fertility, and mulching to prevent weeds. A solid foundation will ultimately yield the greatest harvest from the healthiest plants and minimize maintenance mid-summer, when picking is at its peak. Embrace and channel the surge of energy that comes with spring.
Approach the preparations of the beds with restrained gusto. Loosen but do not invert the soil, removing any large clumps of weeds, particularly perennial grasses with a running root that sprouts from any small piece left behind. Most soil problems can be corrected by a simple soil test—support your state’s university extension service! —and an abundance of organic matter. The less digging, rototilling, or hoeing, the healthier the soil’s micro-organisms will be. Building upwards with compost and mulch, rather than disturbing the soil at deeper levels repairs most injuries to the earth.
Generally, most flowers prefer the same pH range as most vegetables: 6.5. The soil test from the university extension will recommend amendments, some of which should be scratched into the surface of the soil—no need to dig. Other amendments, like minerals and organic fertilizers, can be sprinkled onto the soil surface before the compost goes down. Flowers like a fertile bed as much as a broccoli plant does.
Organic matter should be the love that ensures health, always on-hand and generously offered. Compost is the most efficient way to deliver organic matter to the ground. Though it might have plenty of nutrients, it should not be considered fertilizer or food for plants; compost merely holds nutrients, water, and microbes in place. The science of soil is complex and we gardeners can feel overwhelmed by nutrient needs recommended by the soil test. But our blunderings can be buffered by organic matter and a diversity of mulches.
Any small garden, vegetable or flower, should rely on mulch to cover every inch of the soil. Mulch is usually material like leaves, hay, or straw. Other kinds of mulch, like woodchips and cardboard, can be used in pathways. Plastic is also an option, but whenever an organic material is available it should be used, since it will break down into worm-food. The main reason for mulch is to prevent weed seeds from sprouting. Mulch may need to be added throughout the season, and once the plants are large and flowering, the task becomes easier. Even before your garden is planted, mulch can be laid down. Eventually plan on a thick layer to be an effective weed barrier: six inches of fluffy mulch is a minimum. Mulching is an expression of love for the soil—feeding it, protecting it, and encouraging the many tiny homes for micro-organisms which keep the crop healthy.
Once the soil has been prepped, separate and mark garden beds from walkways to minimize compaction in the areas that will be planted. Decide where the beds are and where the walkways will be. When the time is right, after the last frost is a week gone by and the transplants are an appropriate size, use a leaf rake to create furrows (shallow, long ditches) by pulling the mulch back and exposing the soil where the transplants will be planted. Once the transplant is settled in, gently replace the mulch around the baby plants and water them well. Soaker hose on a timer is an excellent way to keep crops watered all season. This should be below the mulch, so as not to wet the foliage.
Sprouting flower seeds will give you a renewed respect for diversity in the world of plants. Unlike vegetables, which over thousands of years have been bred for food and thus have a certain homogeneity, most flowers are somewhat closer to the wild. For some seeds, light triggers germination. Other seeds require scarification (scratching), or vernalization (cold treatment) and long waits. For the dozen flowers varieties recommended here, germination is fairly simple, except the tricky sweet pea, but this earliest effort is still rewarding and somewhat addictive.
Sometime, during the late winter or early spring, space will need to be created in a sunny, warm window to start all the seeds. In some cases, as the sun moves around the house during the day, the amount of light will be inadequate for the little baby plants to grow without becoming spindly. Consider a grow light that will turn on after the morning sun moves to the other side of the house. Imagine replicating natural growing conditions.
Starting with transplants in the garden versus direct seeding provides a couple of advantages. When direct seeding, mulch can’t be applied to the area until the pants have emerged. Unfortunately, weeds will emerge as well, demanding the extra chore of weeding. Plants started indoors can be babied. For the control freaks out there—anyone who gardens is ultimately trying to control a little bit of nature—transplants are highly managed and the little spots of hopeful green inside will only serve to foster the excitement about planting time.
The transplant table is a mini-garden. Light, temperature, moisture, and pest issues can all be addressed in miniature with transplants. Seeds can be started in any type of container that will hold soil and water and has an opportunity for drainage. From tofu containers to small clay pots or old tea cups with a sprinkle of gravel at the bottom, all of these are utilitarian seed-starting vessels. Once the transplants leave the house and are planted in the garden, managing all the variables that make for success in growth becomes a greater challenge. It’s like sending a child off to school, hoping she is healthy and strong and instilled with everything she needs to flourish. As with children, it is helpful to set the seedlings outside in nice weather as their big day approaches. Start plenty more seeds than needed. Extra transplants that will not fit into the space allotted in the garden can always be shared with friends.
After the seedlings have a good set of true leaves—the first leaves, or cotyledons don’t count—they can be set out into the garden. As long as the plants’ roots have room to grow, the seedlings can remain indoors and grow all that much bigger and more robust. When the time comes to move all the precious little babies out into the big garden, make sure they are well watered and have a good spritz of fish emulsion. Ideally, morning or evening transplanting is best since wind and bright sun will shock the seedlings, stunting growth. Just as broccoli will button-up with a stressful transition, flower plants will produce flowers with fewer petals and less vigor.
Organize the order of where things are planted based on height. Taller plants want to be placed so that as the afternoon sun moves around, they do not cast a shadow over the shorter plants. Unlike vegetables, flowers should be tightly spaced to encourage tall flower stems. The plants will compete for light and reach high, resulting in stem length best for cutting. As a general rule, the flowers listed in the Dozen Favorites list can all be spaced at eight inches within the row and eight to twelve inches between rows. The tighter the spacing, the less chance of weed pressure as the plants out-compete the weeds.
Once the garden is prepped, mulched, and planted, the countdown to bloom time is less than six weeks. With a few exceptions, growing on of flowers will be similar to vegetables. Monitor the plants regularly for pests. Remove any weeds that appear through the thick mulch. If any of the mulch has been disturbed and soil is showing, heap more in place from a nearby stock-pile. Since flower crops are in the soil for so long, they will need more fertility over a longer period—a perfect excuse for using organic fertilizers like manure, fish meal, or soymeal. Even so, a second feeding alongside the plant might be necessary. As stable organic matter gradually builds in the soil, fertility will not need to be spoon-fed. Foliar feeds encourage an environment for microbial communities that live on the surface of the plant. These “good bugs” help the plant fight fungal and bacterial infections, as well as infestations by uninvited insects.
Some of the taller varieties may need to be staked, depending on how strong the wind is. Tomato cages, bamboo stakes, old metal bed frames, rebar, t-posts, and twine can all be used in creative ways to create trellising and support systems for flowering plants. Sweet peas need something to grow on, and nasturtiums can be trained to climb. Cosmos can topple without support in the strong wind of a summer thunderstorm.
Like vegetables, the flowers need one inch of water per week, either via rainfall or irrigation. When rain is scarce, a soaker hose placed under the mulch can be turned on to provide the necessary hydration. Avoid overhead watering with sprinklers. As with vegetables, infrequent deep watering is better than daily light watering.
Before long, each variety will start sending up flower buds. Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators will arrive to gather nectar and pollen. This is plant sex, and it is incredible to invite such shameless revelry into our cultivated space. But do not get too carried away. Seed production is the goal of flowering plants, and once that is achieved, flowering will ebb and vigor will decline. If the blooms are not continually cut, the plant will assume its job is done and stop flowering.
Some varieties, like zinnias or snapdragons are easier to keep up with, but calendula and nasturtium will likely blossom many more flowers than wanted. These seed-producing flowers need to be cut and simply left on the ground, a job called dead-heading. Let the chore of dead-heading be an excuse to harvest flowers boldly. Harvest the annual flowers on the dozen favorites list when they are open and do not be afraid to cut low down on the plant, sacrificing a few buds for a nice usable stem. To harvest properly, every few days carry clippers out to the garden. Bring a bucket of fresh, cool water along. Move through the rows, systematically addressing each plant. Remove any injured, unusable, or spent blooms. As the season progresses, stems will get longer, but even in the early summer, cut boldly. More flowers will come if the plant thinks it still needs to produce seed. Once cut, strip off the foliage from the stem, leaving just the last two whorls of leaves at the top near the bloom. Everything under water in the bucket should be leafless. When finished, the garden should only have the smallest hint of color from the blooms that are just starting to open.
That bucket full of blooms is the gift to be brought inside. Mix these pops of color with herbs, foliage, branches, grasses, and any interesting pods foraged from the yard. This is the time to experiment with design. In Maine, we only lock our car doors in August when we might otherwise find the passenger seat filled with produce (specifically huge zucchinis) from the neighbor’s garden. We have yet to scare anyone away with the gift of flowers.
END OF SEASON
Once the fall frost has killed most of the flowers, cut all the plant material down to the ground. Leave the roots in the ground and the mulch on the beds to help prevent erosion over the winter and during the spring thaw period when rains can wash exposed soil away. This is the time to jot down a few notes about what did well and what would be worth planting again.
Once the first cutting garden season has passed, the desire to branch out and grow some more challenging plants will emerge. A natural curiosity and sense of gardening adventure will draw the intrepid gardener onward. The desire for another shape, another color, another bloom in an arrangement will stoke the habit. Far from being a superfluous fancy, flowers quickly become a mainstay of the garden. As the gardener matures, he plants less cucumber and less cabbage, but the flowers remain, a sign of distinction; a calling card of his love for plants.
There are a multitude of perennials you can add to your cutting garden for unparalleled blooms. Peonies, garden roses, perennial phlox, echinacea, clematis, and bee balm are all favorites. Perennials are a more substantial investment in time and money. As a plant, they need more time to mature before they start producing a usable crop. Investment always requires stability and awareness of your living space. As gardening becomes an annual ritual, perennial beds will fill in spaces around your main garden. The financial investment is well worth it. Most perennials don’t produce blooms all summer long like some annuals. Normally, they have a bloom window. They can be difficult to start from seed so most gardeners either collect divisions of perennials from other growers or purchase plant stock from a reputable supplier.
GERMINATING SWEET PEAS
Soak the sweet peas seeds for twenty-four hours. Rinse the soaked seed. Using a cookie sheet spread with a few layers of wet newspaper, pour the soaked seed out onto the wet paper. Cover and keep dark and cool (around 60ºF). Check moisture daily and once seeds germinate, pot on into soil.
A Dozen Annuals To Get You Started
Cosmos bipinnatus: Double Click Mix
Zinnia: Benary’s Giant, Persian Carpet
Ammi: Green Mist
Snapdragons: Rocket Mix
Digitalis: Camelot Mix
Gomphrena: Qis Mix, Strawberry Fields
Nasturtiums: Peach Melba, Jewel Mix
Sweet Peas: Mammoth Choice Mix
Rudbeckia: Prairie Sun, Goldilocks
Scabiosa stellata & Scabiosa atropurpurea
(Download and print our illustrated (by Phoebe Wahl) Planting Guide.)
But nine days sit between us and the turn of the year. It seems to me that, while perhaps a bit early, this is a completely reasonable time to look back on the year almost gone. I hope that for you it has been filled with both enjoyment fully felt and challenges deftly surmounted. As you may anticipate, that is the way we feel here at Taproot. Without dwelling on every specific, I’d like to thank you kindly for being along for the ride as we successfully finished our third year of publication and launched a number of new items in our webshop including Taproot Goods and our first Holiday Pop Up Shop.
As thanks, we’d like to invite you to download a new set of Phoebe Wahl Gift Tags we commissioned her to create. They’re bright and cheery and sure to add a bit of panache to the boxes laid ’round your tree.
Until the New Year,
P.S. Please remember that your continued (or new) financial support in the form of a subscription or renewal allows us to continue our work. Taproot Magazine makes a wonderful gift and our downloadable gift cards with art from Phoebe Wahl and Michelle Kroll make it easy to beautifully announce your gift in a timely manner, even as the recipient awaits the arrival of their first issue.
Jennifer Casa’s new books is a beautiful collection of past and present. The projects in this book are inspiring. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself remembering favorite fabrics of your childhood and you’ll be craving time at your sewing machine! In Vintage Made Modern, Jennifer shares 35 innovative projects to “transform time worn textiles into treasured heirlooms.”
Jennifer Casa’s love and appreciation for the history and untold stories of vintage fabrics really shines through these pages. With it’s beautiful photography and touching stories, I got lost in her book and found myself completely inspired. While reading through her chapters, I pulled out one of my grandmother’s quilts and viewed it again with a fresh perspective. Her attention to detail about working with (and care of) timeworn textiles shed light on true appreciation for not just the history but also the women who created these treasures from long ago. Whether repairing or repurposing, the focus remains on each individual piece and how it speaks to you.
Jennifer’s book is a treasure. You’ll dream of repurposing unfinished patchwork quilts into dolls, hot pads or feed sack charm pendants. Cutter quilts find a new life as pretty bangles, reusable hand warmers, no-sew wreaths, or a simple shoulder bag. Favorite vintage sheets and pillowcases will extend their life as they become twirly skirts, napkin hampers, and everyday tote bags. Quilt tops and kitchen textiles all have a place in our modern home. Jennifer provides us with the tools and knowledge to move forward with these projects.
Jennifer Casa is a maker of modern heirlooms. Her Hauschen Doorstep pattern was featured in Taproot MEND (issue 11). She has written several books on sewing, vintage textiles, and crafting with kids. You can find her latest book, Vintage Made Modern, at Roost Books. She works with swoonworthy yarn and fabric stash in her studio in Northern Ohio where she lives with her husband and twin daughters. Learn more about Jennifer at JCasa Handmade.
Readers, we have a big oops to report and a sincere apology to issue today! On page 48 of our latest issue, BREAD, we posted an incorrect image demonstrating knife carving. The first image on that page (see above) was intended to illustrate how NOT to carve, but was not captioned by us appropriately. As Chris Knapp so perfectly describes in his article, if you ask the question “where’s it going when it slips away?” you’ll see that the knife is headed right for Chris’ fingers in that photograph. No, no, no!
An excerpt from his article:
This is the only question the carver must ask: “Where is the knife going when it goes beyond where I intended?” I tell them the question, then illustrate it with a little game. I say, “You tell me where this knife is going when it slips away.” Then I hold the knife on a piece of wood as though I were about to start carving. First, I hold it over my leg. “Where is it going?” Then I hold it next to my foot. “Where is it going?” Then I place my hand on the wrong side of the piece of wood so that the knife is going toward the hand. “Where is it going?” Then I hold the wood very near whoever is sitting next to me. “Where is it going?” The kids see the pattern right away, it is easy to answer these questions!
Then I hold the wood so that the knife will slip away into open air. “Where is it going?”
“Into the air!” they shout. It is that simple!
To complicate the matter a tad there are very good and useful carving techniques that involve holding the blade vertically and carving toward one’s chest. That is why the rule is not the proverbial always carve away from yourself! Instead of a rule I offer a question that demands attention from the intellect of the carver, “Where is my knife going when it slips away?”
All the other images in the carving article are safe and appropriate! And here are a few more (above) for visual reference. We hope that clears things up and again apologize to Chris and all of you for the error.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out our recently produced video, featuring Chris teaching us how to properly sharpen our knives, with plenty of great carving shots as well!
The day has finally arrived and the Taproot Holiday Pop Up Shop is officially open!
We’re proud of the selection of hand-picked, handmade and artisanal goods that we have brought together and hope that, regardless of whether you choose to buy, you’ll take a look at each maker’s story highlighted on their product’s page. They are all interesting and talented people creating things of beauty and quality. Remember, supplies are limited and we won’t be restocking, so shop early for best selection.
Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:
Clockwise from Top Left: Over the Knee Socks, Acorn Cap Candles, Family Healing Kit, Veggie Plate Trio
Clockwise from Top Left: 4 Seasons Tea Towels, Salt Water Taffy, Wool Journal, Bud Vases
We’ve also been busy creating a whole new line of Taproot Goods, our own unique items that we’ll have in the shop most all the time (unlike Pop Up items which, when they’re gone, they’re gone). We’re excited to show you what we’ve been cooking up.
Clockwise from Left: Support Local Farmers T-Shirt with an exclusive-to-Taproot Phoebe Wahl illustration; Taproot Recipe Cards featuring our favorites from all 12 issues plus blank cards to add your own, all in a box made of reclaimed barn board from Vermont dairy barns; Phoebe Wahl’s Feminism is Freedom slogan adorns an organic cotton tee; set of lined and unlined journals.
Clockwise from Left: Growth Chart featuring Phoebe Wahl illustration measures children up to 67″; Farm Family Paper Dolls; Taproot Mason Jar with Cuppow lid; set of mini-prints of 2014 Taproot Cover art.
We still have 2015 Phoebe Wahl Calendars as well, but they’re going fast. We sold out of them last year, so don’t miss your chance to pick one up!
Hopefully you can find something in the Pop Up items or Taproot Goods that will tickle someone’s (perhaps your own!) fancy this season. Regardless, I hope that your coming days are filled with plenty of opportunities to connect with friends, family and community.
Keep in touch,
Whether you are preparing to celebrate the US Thanksgiving holiday or not, we wanted to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ – for your support as subscribers, readers, and encouragers of the work we are doing here at Taproot.
And since some of us might soon find ourselves with a pile of turkey leftovers, we thought we’d share with you this favorite recipe of ours from the archives. This salad, by Ashley English and photographed by Rikki Snyder, first appeared in Issue 7::GATHER. It’s become a favorite in the home of many of us on the Taproot team, and we can assure you that while it was written for chicken, it translates beautifully to turkey. It might even be better with turkey! So perhaps on Friday, or this weekend, you’ll find yourself enjoying it as well.
Best wishes to you and yours!
~Amanda, Jason, Ted, Meredith, Jessie, Jess, and Veronica.
Candied Pecan and Sage Chicken Salad
the meat from one roasted chicken
1 cup crushed pecans
about 3 dozen fresh sage leaves
⅓ cup dried cranberries and/or raisins
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
½ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon sea salt
several grinds black pepper
Chop the chicken meat into small pieces; set aside in a
medium-sized mixing bowl.
Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over
medium-low heat until melted.
Add the sage leaves; cook for about 2 minutes until they are slightly crispy. Remove the sage leaves from the pan with a fork, and mince them on a cutting board. Set aside.
Put the crushed pecans in the remaining butter in the pan, and stir for about 2 minutes, coating the nuts completely.
Add the maple syrup, and cook for another minute or two until the syrup starts to thicken a bit. Remove the nuts from the pan, and add them to the mixing bowl.
Combine all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl, and stir well. Serve immediately or refrigerate and consume within 2 days.
Do you, like me, feel an anticipation of the coming season? I don’t mean just because we’re already hearing holiday music in the stores (and have been since Halloween!?), but because, regardless of our irritation with what seems to be an ever-earlier commercial onslaught, something real and meaningful does occur this time of year.
Families and friends come together, catch up and reconnect. Frequently, they also share a meal together: they break bread. Which is, of course, what I’m inviting you to do, metaphorically speaking, when you go with me on this virtual tour of the Taproot ISSUE 12::BREAD.
Should what you see tickle your fancy, I’d be really pleased if you’d take the time to subscribe (and get the swell subscriber bonus of mini-prints of our 2014 covers by Geninne Zlatkis). I’d hurry, though, because the number of copies we have with them included is limited.
As you might expect from a BREAD-themed issue, there are plenty of recipes for bread, gluten-free and gluten-rich, yeasted and sourdough. There’s even an article on building your own cob oven. Let’s take a look.
Regular contributor Phoebe Wahl has shared both the art of watercolor and the art of baking in this issue, hand-illustrating her family’s simple bread recipe. As we were putting the magazine together, naturally we had to try it out. It’s so easy to make and vary each time with sweet or savory additions, it’s become one of our family favorites as well.
For the gluten-free gang (celiacs like the author, or those experimenting with their diet), the article by new contributor Tara Barker will show you that the term Gluten-Free Sourdough isn’t oxymoronic, it’s tasty. You’ll want to be sure to try out her bagels and flatbread regardless of your tolerance of that pesky protein.
While this issue is chock full of still more recipes and ruminations on bread, we do veer off to take some time with Chris Knapp (interviewed in ISSUE 5::DREAM) to learn about carving wood. To make wood-carving a joy, you need a sharp knife, so we produced our very first video so you can learn how to do it properly. Take a look.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a new issue without a new signed print in the Print Shop. In this issue we have one of Phoebe Wahl’s family scenes depicted in Bakers (I love the father’s bare feet and the flour underneath his helper!). Reproduced in its vibrant glory in an archival format, it’s signed by the author herself, ready to be framed and hung wherever you need bread baking inspiration.
ISSUE 12 marks the end of our third year, so we have a new collection to offer, one that includes all 12 issues published to date, our Year 1, 2 + 3 Collection. It can be a perfect gift for anyone on your list (including yourself). If you order that (and subscribe), be sure to choose to start your subscription with ISSUE 13::SONG coming March 2015.
We’d like to take a moment to thank Geninne Zlatkis, our 2014 cover artist for the amazing work she did for us this year. If you would like additional copies of the mini-prints to share with friends or family, they’re also available in the shop.
That leaves us with one other bit of business to cover, the announcement of our 2015 cover artist. After gracing the interior of Taproot for all of our issues, Phoebe Wahl moves to the front. Look for her inimitable playful and whimsical art on the covers of SONG, WILD, FOLK and SHELTER. If your subscription is up, take the time to renew now. You won’t want to miss a single issue!
As ever, I thank you kindly for your support,
I don’t know about you, but for me it sure feels like 2014 has gone by wicked fast. I know there’s still better than two months to go, but if your household is anything like mine, the holidays are the most breakneck, flat out time of any year. I’m not complaining either; this has been a good year (so far) for all of us here and I hope for you as well.
All of which to say, it’s time to start thinking about the turn of the calendar. Well, friend, we’ve got you covered. The new Taproot Calendar with art by Phoebe Wahl is available and ready to purchase. Unlike last year (when we sold out in a matter of days), we’ve done our best to make sure there’s enough stock to go around, but I still wouldn’t dillydally about picking up one for yourself or giving one to a friend; supplies are limited.
As well received as last year’s was, we think this one is even better. Better paper, better printing and (saving the best for last) seven never-before-seen new pictures from Phoebe Wahl. I could go on and on in words, but why don’t I show you around instead?
Also new to the shop is the Taproot Tote Bag that visitors to our booth at the Common Ground Country Fair really loved. What’s not to love? It’s organic, made in the USA and sports art from Phoebe Wahl. Take a look at the pic. We hope you like it.
These are just two of the new offerings you can expect from us this fall and winter, in addition, of course to your copy of BREAD in late November (you have subscribed or renewed, haven’t you?), so be sure to keep in touch by watching our website or following us on Ramblings (our blog), Instagram or Facebook. We want you to be the first to know.
Also, remember that we want to hear from you more (wherever you prefer to post). Writers of Letters to the Editor whose missives (or short notes) are published will receive a free one year subscription or subscription extension.
Wishing you a colorful Autumn,
P.S. Your continued (or new) financial support in the form of a subscription or renewal allows us to continue our work. If you know of a friend who would enjoy Taproot, please consider sending them a gift subscription. We’ll even send a handwritten gift card to your friend free of charge (sorry, U.S. only) announcing your purchase before the arrival of their first issue.
THANK YOU for supporting Taproot, an ad-free, independent voice committed to seeking out the stories that connect us all.
Some errata has been found with our Barn Sweater knitting pattern, featured in Issue 11::MEND. Under the raglan shaping, it should read:
Next row inc row: (RS) *Work to 2 sts before raglan marker, p1-f/b, p1, slip m, p1, p1-f/b; rep from * 3 more times, work to end as est (8 sts inc’d)—84 (88, 96, 96, 104, 112, 120) sts.
Work 1 WS row even as est, keeping band sts in garter st and all other sts in Rev St st.
Repeat the last 2 rows 18 (19, 21, 24, 26, 27, 29) more times; and at the same time, when yoke measures approx 1″ (approx 6″ from cast on edge), ending after a WS row.
(The numbers in bold were omitted from the printed pattern.)
We apologize for any inconvenience!
We are all settling back into our respective homes after a wonderful long weekend spent at the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine. This is Taproot’s third year at the fair, and it just keeps getting better. Meeting new folks, conversing with familiar faces, and talking about all the things we share in common, and what we hope for the future of our little publication. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello to us in the booth! You made our time there so lovely.
(We were happy that our new Taproot Totebags arrived just in time to bring to the fair – those are in the shop now if you’re interested!)
We’re already looking forward to next year at the fair – it’s always a welcome harbinger of the autumn season, and a perfect moment to pause and reflect with likeminded folk. As a magazine, we always feel encouraged and inspired with new ideas by these real-life meetings, and would love to have more of them! As we think about next year’s plans, we wonder if there is a fair or gathering in your neck of the woods that you think we should attend? Do let us know – we’d love to meet you!
What a beautiful summer we’ve had here in New England! It’s so hard to believe that September is here, but there is no surer sign of that being true than the country fair. It’s time now for our annual pilgrimage to Unity, Maine for the Common Ground Country Fair! We’ll be there all weekend, in the Taproot booth located in the Media area (hint: right across from the lamb kabobs!). If you’re there this weekend, do stop by to say hello – we’d love to see you! And if you’d like to follow along with us from afar for the weekend, follow us on Instagram at @taprootmag.
Cheers to Autumn!
~amanda (and Meredith, Jason, Veronica and Phoebe)
I don’t know if you’re feeling it where you live, but here in Vermont and other points Northeast, it’s clear that summer is losing steam and fall is more than willing to pick up the slack. This morning over breakfast I tried to deny it was happening, deny that I’d seen brown or red leaves on the ground or noticed the quickly shortening days. The family consensus was that I had lived in Vermont too long to act so silly.
I suppose then that it’s time to pull my head out of the sand and prep for fall: That means putting away the tools that have been left in the field waiting for the completion of some now-forgotten task, gathering up the last of the tomatoes to can into sauce and paste, harvesting potatoes to cure now that the basement is cool enough and stacking wood that should have been in neat rows out on the deck three months ago.
Not to be forgotten, in this lull between summer and winter, are tidying and straightening, considering and remembering, readying and mending; in other words, the perfect time to cozy up with a cup of tea and take in the latest issue of Taproot Magazine: ISSUE 11::MEND.
Since, if you’re a subscriber it’s on the way, and if you’re not, you’ll need to subscribe to receive a copy, let’s take a moment and look inside.
Regular contributor Schirin Oeding starts off MEND with a thoughtful piece challenging us to work to mend the Earth, even in spite of the possibilities for doubt and cynicism that could leave us stymied. As she says in the close of her piece, “Start where you are. Don’t wait. “
Next comes a lively piece of reportage from Julia Shipley (composed in her effervescent style) about poet W.S. Merwin’s efforts to plant a tree a day for almost forty years, returning a former pineapple plantation to a grove of native trees in Hawaii. Rounding out the Head section are essays on reconsidering our relationship to clothing, learning from failure and the value of meditation.
As ever, the Hands section of this issue is filled with great ideas for things to make and do, so with the theme of MEND, we’d be remiss if there wasn’t a tutorial on clothes-patching. We’ve one from new contributor Em Falconbridge who exchanges the humdrum with clever ideas for making extraordinarily pleasing patches.
I know some knitters who don’t mind wool draping over their legs during the hot summer months (I’m looking at you, Amanda), but I for one can’t do it. That’s why I’m excited about the prospect of getting my needles out and warmed up to take on this charming Barn Sweater pattern from Carrie Bostick Hoge.
Erin Benzakein returns to Taproot with a terrific and timely piece that will inspire you to plan (and plant) so you can harvest beautiful bouquets in the spring. She makes it seem easy and the glorious photos are so inspiring, you’ll want to find a spot where you can poke at least a few bulbs into the soil.
Also returning is Steve Soule with an essay in the Heart section accompanied by a lovely piece of art by Jenn Judd-McGee. Documenting his difficulties with the social attitudes and life-struggles of the Ingalls family while reading the Little House books to his children, he is able to recognize and appreciate the progress we as a culture have made. (Though recent events clearly underscore that we have not come far enough!)
Speaking of Phoebe Wahl, don’t miss out on an opportunity to meet her if you’re in the neighborhood of the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine September 19-21. As we have the last couple of years, we’ll have a booth in the Media area. Please come by and say hello!
One other small point of interest before I sign off is to let you know that we want to hear from you more. Starting with ISSUE 12::BREAD, writers of Letters to the Editor whose missives (or short notes) are published will receive a free one year subscription or subscription extension.
Ashley English’s new book, Handmade Gatherings, is a beautiful collection of recipes and crafts for seasonal celebrations and potluck parties. A true resource for party planners, this book is an inspiration for gathering friends and family around shared meals throughout all the seasons. Page after page, her recipes and craft activities flow between stories of past and present while complimented by the beautiful photography of Jen Altman. Handmade Gatherings is more than just pretty parties, it’s about celebrating the little things in life.
“When we slow down and notice the world unfolding around us, we experience awe. We might just gain a bit of clarity too. And we definitely find a comfort and solace that happen only when we take the time to allow ourselves to get caught up in the splendor if it all.”
Handmade Gatherings carries us through an entire year: celebrating the emergence of spring with wild-crafted edibles or welcoming the arrival of bees … Ashley’s creativity is contagious. She moves from summertime cake walks and ice cream socials to the bustling art of canning season in autumn and the soul warming soup parties and festive cookie exchanges in winter. These non-traditional themed potlucks are sure to inspire creativity year round.
Ashley guides us with 16 themed gatherings, 52 recipes, 32 craft ideas and activities. She writes with an ease and authenticity on the subject of entertaining; covering details about organizing and coordinating the gathering, to the importance of sharing everyone’s skills and resources. Her potluck parties divide the work load with friends and family in attendance to make them a true community gathering.
To learn more about Ashley, join her on her homesteading blog, Small Measure. Check out her recipes in our recent spring Issue 10 :: SEED (and forthcoming Issue 11 :: MEND due out this fall!) Find her latest book, Handmade Gatherings at Roost Books.
Jenna’s Woginrich’s newest book, Cold Antler Farm, feels like a continued conversation with an old friend. She brings us with her on her own adventures in farming, and carries the conversation through The Wheel of the Year (the pre-Christian agricultural days of ancient Europe: Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasa, and Samhain.) These cycles are life to this modern pioneer, and Jenna’s chapters bring us throughout every season on her scrappy farm. We meet in chapters and chat about the weather while loading hay into her truck, we meet in town and hear stories of her horse and cart adventures with Merlin and Jasper, we lean on the fence line after chores are done to catch up with the latest news from her sheep, chickens, horses and border collie. Jenna’s book feels a bit like sharing a home-cooked meal with good friends. This is the good life that Jenna Woginrich chose when she left her 9-5 job in the city and took the leap (literally!) into farming. Her stories speak of her deep connection with nature and the cycles of this earth.
“All I know to do is keep farming, and so I do. My part of the bargain is to tend and fuss, the apple tres’ is to quietly grow and thrive. They do what they do and I do what I do and perhaps in the fall we’ll both cast our shadows in the light of a Hallowmas bonfire and know we made it through another year. A circle is a fine religion. It keeps me going.”
Jenna Woginrich is a modern pioneer, a writer, and a young woman single-handedly doing it all. Her six acre homestead is in Washington County at the base of the Taconic Mountains in New York State. She seldom ventures further than a few miles from her farm, and it’s from here that she writes of simpler times and a deep-rooted life. This book documents the perils and pleasures of her day to day. Her words easily resonate, even if you have never worn a pair of muck boots to feed the pigs, her words resonate because they are true and real.
Jenna is an independent single woman who writes about the beautiful (and often messy) everyday life of balance and chaos that goes hand in hand with farming. Her book was written with the perfect dose of sass and humor. I highly recommended Cold Antler Farm to anyone who has even the smallest seed of homesteading in their heart.
To learn more about Jenna, follow along her adventures on her homesteading blog of the same name, Cold Antler Farm. Check out her piece in our latest Issue 10 :: SEED. Find her newest book at Roost Books.
Spruce & Gussy
12 Mount Desert Street
Bar Harbor, Maine
Another stop on our Mount Desert Island tour was into the delightful Spruce & Gussy in Bar Harbor, Maine. There, we wandered the shelves of handmade and local artisans with something unique and fun to find for everyone in the family. And the bonus of walking into the store and finding Taproot (Issue 10::SEED) right there on the shelf next to a seaside “terrarium” just like on the cover? Well, that just made our day.
If you’re in Bar Harbor soon, do pay a visit to Spruce & Gussy, or visit them online!
All of us here at Taproot are big fans of the work of Jennifer Judd-McGee, our first year cover artist as well as continuing contributor and Maine “neighbor.” Last week, Meredith Winn and I had the pleasure of attending the opening of her new solo installation in the Blum Gallery at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. What a delight to see not only her work but her world too! As we spent the following day exploring a tiny corner of her neck of the woods, we found the beauty that is reflected in Jen’s art everywhere we looked – from the moss and sand gardens in the Asticou Azaela Gardens to all the nooks and crannies around the harbor and shores and woods of Mount Desert Island. Her show, titled Rows & Rows: Community, Pattern and Landscape, features her paper cuttings, wood cuttings and 100 laser-cut flags. It will be up through the summer, and there are several events in conjunction with it. Do check out the College of the Atlantic news about her show for more details and be sure to stop by if you’re in the area. You’ll be so glad you did – and surely inspired by the beauty Jen shares!
Northeast Harbor, Maine
(Just opened, there isn’t a website, but if you stop into Northeast Harbor you won’t miss the shop just on the left as you come into town.)
While on Mount Desert Island recently, Meredith and I had the pleasure of visiting one of Taproot’s newest stockists. Mrs. Brown’s in Northeast Harbor, Maine has only been open for a few weeks, but already it’s chock full of goodness of the food, farm, family and craft variety that we know our Taproot readers love. Working with local artists, crafters, and farmers, shopkeeper Kelly Brown (yes, she’s Mrs. Brown!) has carefully curated her little shop with beautiful art, local craft materials, home goods by local artisans, and food grown and made by some of the best makers here in Maine.
If you’re lucky enough to be local, or traveling to coastal Maine soon, do be sure to pay a visit to Mrs. Brown’s!
We have so much to share with you about the latest issue of Taproot, but let’s start with the number 96, the number of pages in ISSUE 10::SEED. That’s right, we’ve added an additional 24 pages to the magazine and filled them with the sorts of essays, articles, photography, crafts and recipes you love and expect from us, just more of them.
You may notice also that little notebook to the right of the magazine and wonder, “What is that?”. It’s our latest subscriber bonus, a sweet little book filled with art and doodles from Phoebe Wahl, perfect for recording your dreams and plans for garden (or other) adventures. When you subscribe or renew your subscription, you can get your very own while supplies last. If you like it and want more, they’re available singly and in sets of three at taprootmag.com.
But let’s take a look inside…
You might think that selecting the theme of SEED for our contributors to work with would be like pitching them a softball and letting them knock it out of the park, but, I ask, what’s wrong with that? Especially, when you, dear reader, are the winner.
That is not to say, however, (and you’ll have to bear with me and the baseball cliche’s) that we weren’t thrown a few curveballs. For example, Christine Chitnis shares a photo essay of a very special seed bank in Rhode Island that is dedicated to preserving the “seed” of heritage animals.
In the same vein (though more soberly), a new contributor to Taproot, seasoned author Janisse Ray shares the heartbreaking (yet hopeful) story of her niece, a child abuse victim, dancing deftly around the question of whether a child can be considered a “bad seed” despite her misbehavior when she is clearly the victim of circumstances outside her control. I won’t say more, but that you should read it.
We’ve become accustomed, though not immune, to the brilliance (light and composition) of contributor Rikki Snyder’s food photography, but in this issue she’s given us both the words and the pictures and her piece is a doozy, filled with delectable, yet simple salads. Take a short trip to your farmers’ market or garden rows, prop this issue open and prepare to bring your taste buds back to life with the freshness of the summer’s bounty.
You’ll know that we didn’t let the extra 24 pages go to waste when you enjoy all of the recipes and crafting we were able to put into SEED’s hands section. We have another lengthy piece from Kirsten Shockey, this time about making homemade mustards. Try out decoupage with Amy Rice and you won’t let summer stop you from knitting when you see Carrie Bostick Hoge’s Northport Baby Blanket.
There’s so much there, including recipes from Ashley English and guidance on creating your own cut flower garden from Stacy Brenner, hopefully this issue will keep you sated until the next (ISSUE 11::MEND) arrives in September.
But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a closer look at that Gardening Notebook, included with subscriber copies of ISSUE 10.
We’re very pleased with this little notebook and we hope you like it too. Featuring five new original works by Phoebe between the cover and interior pages, as well as gardening-themed borders and doodles, it requires only your words, sketches, plans and dreams to become even more charming.
If you find yourself in need of more, find them online singly or in sets of three.
We’re offering two signed prints from this issue. Manual Meditation from Phoebe Wahl runs alongside Amanda’s editor’s letter from this issue and can also be found on the back of the Gardening Notebook.
For the first time, we’re offering a print signed by Jenn Judd-McGee, So Much Light, the papercut that accompanies Thorpe Moeckel’s latest contribution to the heart section.
I think you’re really going to enjoy this issue (all 96 pages of it). I hope that you’ve subscribed and yours is on the way. If you haven’t subscribed (or your subscription has lapsed), head on over to taprootmag.com and we’ll get a copy sent your way.
As ever, I want to thank you kindly for your past support (even if it is just to keep in touch via these emails or our blog). It is because of your interest in our ad-free, independent magazine that we have been able to create a quiet, informative, educational and, yes, entertaining journal for you to enjoy each season.
If you’re a subscriber, the sights above may already be familiar to you, as our next issue, SEED has begun shipping! Behind the scenes, we’re busy photographing and getting everything lined up to tell you all about this special issue early next week. Issue 10 includes more pages than ever before, and a fun subscriber bonus by Phoebe Wahl (if you’ve let your subscription lapse, don’t worry. We’ll make it available to you when you renew before the next issue). More details to come next week. Until then…happy weekend to you and yours!
Jason, Jessie and I spent a lovely stretch of days this week in New York City where we explored green spaces, met some of our stockists, and brainstormed new ideas. While in Brooklyn, we had the pleasure of a lovely evening with our frequent photographer Rikki Snyder, whose brain we picked about all her tips and tricks that make her food photography so gorgeous (it’s all natural lighting!). Thanks to those of you who followed along with us via our Taproot Mag Instagram feed – we had a blast sharing our finds with you that way.
And now, back to home, our families and our gardens, and back to work on the exciting task at hand – getting Issue 10::SEED out the door and in your hands! Complete with more pages than ever before, plus a little subscriber bonus that that we think you’ll love. Stay tuned!
Here at Taproot, we’re all busy finalizing Issue 10::SEED, scheduled to print very soon (can we declare it our best issue yet? With an extra 24 pages of content and a subscriber bonus you’re going to LOVE? Just you wait!). And at our homes, we’re all busy at work in our gardens too. It seems fitting that there, planting our first seeds of the year, I found just the inspiration I was looking for to write the Editor’s letter for this issue.
Wishing you all a lovely start to your garden season!
Are you interested in helping Taproot to grow? If so, we’d love to talk to you if you have experience with sales and marketing and a passion for what we are creating in the pages and the print shop. Specifically, we need someone who can right away lend a hand with:
- Managing our relationships with our distribution partners.
- Developing our direct bulk sales efforts.
- Overseeing our subscriber development and renewal programs.
- Creating a wholesale program for our stationery and gift products.
- Optimizing our marketing efforts by analyzing sales data.
- Contributing your own vision for the best way to grow Taproot.
The ideal candidate will be located within regular driving distance of Hardwick, VT, have experience in sales and marketing (though not necessarily in the magazine industry) and not be afraid to pick up the phone to be in touch with prospective and current customers. If you have ideas for how we should be marketing ourselves, please include them with your cover letter or email. It’ll give us grist for the mill when we’re in touch. Please send resumes to email@example.com.
It was sometime in January that I first heard the Chickadees outside starting to say “Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.” Now you might have a different onomatopoeia for the noises I hear those silly birds making when spring is coming (and here, for that matter), but around my house, that’s what we think they’re saying.
Of course, you know where this story is headed. Sub-zero weather descended on the Northeast (and many other parts of the U.S.) once again and the birds quieted down. February came and with it a few feet of snow. Where were my harbingers of spring now?
Early this week, they once again raised their voices and chattered away. I couldn’t help but wonder whether they know that Taproot ISSUE 9::BREATHE is in the mail and making its way to subscribers. Do they know that the cover art features one of their feathered brethren in an amazing painting by our 2014 cover artist Geninne Zlatkis? Probably not. In fact, I’m not even sure if birds read magazines, but thankfully people do and this issue is one you won’t want to miss.
With our first essay, you’ll inhale the fresh air of the Swiss Alps with contributor Schirin Oeding in her elegant remembrance of a summer spent working on a dairy farm in an isolated village where seemingly every kind of outdoor work, moving animals, taking meals, mowing and gathering hay, must be done on an incline so steep that to drop anything round (like a water bottle) is to lose it to the mountain.
Further adventures await you in this issue’s Head section as you learn tips on traveling with children, see how a group of young farmers is engaging children in food production and share the experience of an aid worker in Afghanistan who finds that just focusing on her next breath can make any situation bearable.
Winter hands anxious to be busy with spring activities will welcome the bevy of crafts we’ve brought together. Learn the basics of creating your own herbal blends for aromatherapy and for warding off and recovering from the inevitable spring cold. Knit up the lovely shawl designed by Carrie Hoge.
With tantalizing photos and amazing recipes, Kirsten Shockey and Rikki Snyder will inspire you to become a “Fermentista,” creating enticing beet kraut concoctions to eat by themselves or use in recipes, some where you might not expect it! When the day is done, Ashley English will help you to take a load off with tasty libations mixed using your own herb-infused liquors.
Whew, after all that, you’d think we were done, but there is even more in store for you in the Heart section. Meredith Winn takes a moment to stop and consider the role of technology in children’s lives. Phoebe Wahl and her sister Tobie jointly reminisce about a childhood forest visit, Phoebe in watercolors and collage, Tobie in words. Thorpe Moeckel writes in his unique way of his family’s struggles with a house poisoned with mold spores. Julia Shipley brings us home with a poetic consideration of air and, in turn, breath.
With this issue, we are pleased to introduce a new artist, Jess X Chen, whose illustration “Gardening as an Act of Resistance” (right) is available as a signed print in the Print Shop. It is joined there by Phoebe Wahl’s “May Day” watercolor (left), which was first seen in our 2014 Calendar (sadly, sold out, but watch for a 2015 calendar in the fall!).
I think you’re really going to enjoy this issue. I hope that you’ve subscribed and yours is on the way. If you haven’t subscribed (or your subscription has lapsed), head on over to taprootmag.com and we’ll get a copy sent your way.
Each time we go to print, we find ourselves wishing for double the pages so as to include all the good things that come our way. Above is one image that just didn’t quite fit. But thankfully, the recipes by Ashley English and other accompanying photographs by Rikki Snyder did. Look for them in BREATHE, coming your way very soon.
And consider this your fair warning to get the bloody mary ingredients ready, because you’ll want to make one too with the recipe for infused dill vodka we’ve got. Don’t forget the playing cards!
As ISSUE 9::BREATHE comes off the press and makes its way to binding, trimming and mailing, it seems an appropriate time to address the bothersome topic of why Taproot arrives to you shrouded in a plastic bag. I say bothersome, not because I am bothered by readers inquiring about how we square Taproot’s stance on sustainability with the use of plastic bags (it is a completely appropriate question to ask!), but because I feel hamstrung by the options available to us as a small publisher.
First, some background. We have a great printer in Wisconsin that we have worked with for many years both on Taproot and other projects. The price that they give us to print the magazine is extremely competitive and is one of the things that makes it even conceivable that we could at some point make an ad-free, small circulation magazine financially break even or possibly turn a profit.
That said, part of the price they give us is based around Taproot fitting into their manufacturing process. The economical (automated) option that the printer has for bagging the magazine is a recyclable (#4) plastic bag. (We looked into compostable, but there doesn’t seem to be one on the market at this time; the ones that were available smelled like sulfur or didn’t actually compost.) To put the magazine in a paper envelope would all be hand labor; there is no way (at least with our printer) to automate the process and keep the magazine at its current price.
Of course, this begs the question: Why put the magazine in a bag at all? For the first three issues, that’s exactly what we did (excluding international copies, which have always had to be bagged). For each of those issues, we had to re-mail more than 100 copies per issue to folks who had received damaged copies or never received their copy. So, big deal, right? We mail out another copy first class and the problem is solved, right? We didn’t see it that way. Our worry was that subscribers who notified us were the tip of the iceberg and that many, many more subscribers were receiving damaged copies and never letting us know, but also were less likely to renew given that their copies arrived damaged (or never arrived at all).
Since we have made the change, the number of magazines that go missing or are reported damaged has dropped something like 90%. We hope that this means that copies are arriving safe and sound. But, beyond the delivery improvements, we are also now able to include exclusive items for subscribers in the bag that were not previously possible, like postcards and other inserts. Look for more of that in the future.
Does this make everything OK? Of course not. We’re doing the best we can on limited means. We print the magazine on sustainably sourced (FSC Certified) paper. We limit packaging on our print shop items. We are always open to other suggestions of how we can lower our environmental impact. Please be in touch if you have any ideas.
We learned belatedly over the weekend of the passing of William Coperthwaite, a great thinker and doer. Long before my wife and I moved from urban Texas to rural Vermont in search of a different way of life, I had read Mr. Coperthwaite’s book A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity (Chelsea Green, 2007). I found it inspiring and challenging and didn’t always agree with it, but I respected the man who had written the words and thought longer and harder about the topics presented than I had even lived. To meet him was a great privilege. To know that I won’t have the opportunity to do it again saddens me. He will be missed.
While snow keeps falling outside, all of us inside are happily in the land of color – and lots of it – thanks to our 2014 cover artist, Geninne Zlatkis. We’re busy tidying up all the bits and pieces on the inside pages of our next issue, BREATHE, while deliberating on the final details of the front cover too. Check your mailbox – later this month – to see what color we landed on!
As we approach another submission deadline (March 1st for MEND!), our submissions inbox is filling up once again with so much goodness! We continue to be inspired, motivated, and in awe of the wonderful work that comes our way through submissions, and many of the pieces make their way into our pages. Many of the same questions seem to keep cropping up about our submission and editorial process, so we worked up these Frequently Asked Questions, and hope they’re helpful to you. You can find our full submission guidelines here.
Submitting to Taproot Magazine :: Frequently Asked Questions
Our submissions inbox is a happening place! We are so grateful for the positive response to our magazine and the great number of submissions we receive there. Many of our writers have found their way to us this way, and we are excited to find more content for our pages through that channel. As a young, independent ad-free magazine supported entirely by our subscribers, we are doing our best to utilize our resources wisely, and become sustainable as a magazine. This means that we are largely unable to answer individual emails personally as they relate to submissions. We’ve put together this list of Frequently Asked Questions in hopes that you’ll find the answer you’re looking for. And we thank you for your support and understanding!
Do you accept queries? I have a really good idea but I’m not sure if I should write an entire article for submission.
Take a moment to familiarize yourself with our publication. If your good idea seems to naturally fall into one of our themes, it’d be worth you taking the time to put pen to paper. We’d love to review a submission from you for an upcoming issue of Taproot. We cannot, however, critique ideas… and have moved away from the query/pitch submission approach as it has proven difficult to juggle around deadlines. The editorial board is asking instead that writers simply submit their written (final draft) article for review to simplify the process. Updating this process has significantly helped our review board in selecting new pieces in a timely fashion, making sure that articles are received within a timeframe for our selection and deadline.
Can you tell me what you’re looking for in submissions?
We are looking for unique, thoughtful, creative pieces exploring the topics of food, farm, family and craft. We are looking for personal narrative that has universal appeal. We are looking for stories about the makers, doers and dreamers of our time. We are looking for traditional and modern crafts. We are looking for recipes, and techniques to be carried into the kitchen, the garden, the pasture, the urban homestead, the rural farm. We are looking for art that celebrates all of these things!
I didn’t hear back from you after you received my submission!
If you have not received an email from the Taproot’s Editor or Submissions Editor by the date mentioned in the original email, it means the editorial staff did not find a place within the pages of this issue for your submission. We do appreciate your support and encourage you to submit again. If you feel that any of our upcoming themes speak to you and your craft, we’d welcome another submission from you in the future.
Can you tell me why my piece wasn’t accepted?
There are many factors that go into accepting a piece. Sometimes a piece doesn’t make it into our pages because it is too similar to something else we’ve published. Sometimes it doesn’t fit well with theme for that particular issue. Sometimes it just isn’t quite up to par in quality of writing/art/photography standards we are aiming for. Sometimes we might not accept the first submission from someone, but their second (or third!) fits just right. And sometimes, we hem and haw and fret and worry and wish that we could just add thirty more pages to fit in all the wonderful pieces that simply don’t fit into our 76 pages we make for each issue! Please continue to create. And please continue to share it with us!
Can you give me feedback about my piece? I really want to submit to Taproot!
I’m so sorry that we’re unable to do this. Our team is a small one, and we are using our time wisely as we can to create the magazine. See above for some thoughts about why pieces aren’t accepted. Perhaps search out a writer’s group to share your work with and get feedback from?
I see that your editorial calendar lists submission deadlines well into 2015. Why? How far in advance can I submit to an upcoming theme?
The world of publishing works well in advance of seasons. This takes forethought for a writer wanting to submit to us and takes planning on the part of Editors. (For example, the issue you enjoy at the beginning of the new year was created at the end of summer.) We provide future themes of our magazine because the publishing process is long from start to finish (submission to print). Please try to submit to the theme that is currently open. Working and submitting ahead for future themes is acceptable, but please try to refrain from submitting to themes a year in advance as this proves difficult with organization. If you are submitting to multiple themes, please send each submission separately with the issue/theme name in the subject of your email.
I’m an artist and would love to see my work in the pages of Taproot Magazine. What’s the best way to do that?
Thanks for your interest in sharing your artwork with us! The visual creativity (artwork, illustrations, and photography) that fill the pages of Taproot is part of what we believe makes our independent magazine stand out from others and we need artists like you to create this aesthetic. We’d love to review your portfolio for consideration, regarding the possibility of future work with upcoming issues of Taproot. Emailing a link to your online portfolio is preferred, although we do accept snail mail submissions (please do not send originals!). Feel free to share your overall aesthetics and how you discovered our magazine too. We will keep your contact information and portfolio on file. Our editorial board pulls from this list of artists during layout, should we need artwork for specific articles in upcoming issues.
If you are planning on submitting a specific piece of art created for a particular Taproot Magazine issue, attaching it as a jpg to your email. Low resolution is acceptable, should we choose to retain your piece, we will contact you for a high resolution file. With all correspondence with Taproot, please use the issue/theme in the subject of your email.
As this first month comes to a close, I hope it isn’t too late to say Happy New Year! All of us here at Taproot are hard at work on finishing up our next issue, BREATHE. It’s almost ready to go to the printer and we can’t wait to share it with you! I will tell you one thing…get ready for some COLOR thanks to the work of our new cover artist, Geninne Zlatkis. Color! Just the thing all of us need this time of year, I’d say.
In between the good work of putting this issue together, those of us here in New England are also finding plenty of other things to do, keeping our hands busy and warm. I recently finished up these mittens (dyed with tansy, dried from summertime) using the wonderful pattern Family Mittens, by Carrie Bostick Hoge, featured in ISSUE 3 :: RETREAT. Another welcome burst of color in wintertime.
Here we are at the end of the year with a couple of holidays fast approaching, but before they pass us by, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank you. Whether you are a subscriber, a customer in our print shop, or simply a supporter of what we do here at Taproot Magazine, we are so grateful to you. We believe deeply in the values of food, farm, family and craft, and we’re so glad to have you at our side as we continue to fill our pages with content that we hope inspires, educates and entertains.
As a small token of our thanks, we’d like to share with you a set of downloadable gift tags designed by Phoebe Wahl. Featuring five different designs, they’re yours to download, print and share to your heart’s content. We hope you enjoy them!
From all of us at Taproot Magazine, we wish you the very best this season has to offer.
Amanda, Jason and Ted
Andrea, Marisa, Meredith, Marcia and Jessica
We’re pleased to announce that ISSUE 8::RECLAIM is in the mail and making its way to subscribers. We’ve even heard from a lucky few who’ve received theirs (and commented what a welcome antidote it is to the holiday madness), so keep an eye on your post box for its imminent arrival. If you haven’t subscribed (or your subscription has lapsed), head on over to taprootmag.com and we’ll get you a copy sent out.
This is quite an exciting issue as it includes our strongest Hands section to date with knitting, rug hooking, candle-making and an honest-to-goodness pull-out sewing pattern for a smock we’re calling the Taproot Tunic. With such a variety of handicrafts in the pages, this issue should keep you busy until the arrival of ISSUE 9::BREATHE in March 2014. (Goodness, where did 2013 go?)
Not to give short shrift to the Head and Heart sections, I’ll let you know that they include works from regulars Ben Hewitt, Thorpe Moeckel and Meredith Winn, but also newcontributors who have added geographical and other diversity to the pages. If you haven’t seen us lately, you’ll want to see how we’ve grown in the last year!
RECLAIM marks the completion of our second year of Taproot. (You can now find a Year 2 Collection in the shop as well.) It’s been a year of firsts for us and we’ve been so pleased that you’ve been a part of making them successful.
In January, we opened the Print Shop, featuring signed works by Taproot artists. Because we share the proceeds of the sales with the artists, this has been a wonderful way to continue to support the creations of Phoebe Wahl, Michelle Kroll and the other artists you’ll find there. We’ve just added two new images from Phoebe and Michelle from the new issue that we’re sure you’ll love.
Along with Squam Art Workshops, we hosted our first Taproot Gathering in September. With workshops taught by magazine contributors and attendees from all over the U.S. (as well as some internationals), we feel it was a great success and something we’d love to do again (and again!). For the future, we’d love to make it more affordable, family friendly and closer to where you are. Be in touch to help us make this dream a reality!
And this winter, we expanded our print shop offerings even further to include notecards(perfect for gifting or sending holiday greetings and thank-you’s!) as well as a 2014 Calendar with art by Phoebe Wahl. It includes four new, never-before-seen watercolors. We have just a few left, so if it’s already on your wish list, don’t miss out.
I want to thank you kindly for your past support. It is because of your interest in our ad-free, independent magazine that we have been able to create a quiet, informative, educational and, yes, entertaining journal for you to enjoy each quarter.
Your continued (or new) financial support in the form of a subscription or renewal allows us to continue that work. If you know of a friend who would enjoy Taproot, please consider sending them a gift subscription (this is the perfect season for doing so). We’ll even send a handwritten gift card to your friend free of charge (sorry, U.S. only) announcing your purchase before the arrival of their first issue, so they’ll have something to open that special day.
Wishing you the very best the season has to offer,
P.S. In case you haven’t heard, our 2014 Cover Artist is Geninne Zlatkis. Learn more and read an interview with Geninne here. Many, many thanks again to 2013 Cover Artist Nikki McClure.
The owner of Spice and Grain, located in Fryeburg, Maine, has created a lending library with her back issues of Taproot Magazine! We love this idea… and so do her customers. The small natural foods store is an everyday hangout for locals at lunchtime, with cozy seating for friends meeting over a bowl of soup or a cup of coffee located in a great atmosphere.
Spice and Grain’s lending library provides customers a chance to “check out” back issues of Taproot Magazine (they bring them home to spend more quality time reading) for a few days before returning them in exchange for another issue. Spice and Grain is excited to now stock Taproot Magazine and locals are eagerly awaiting RECLAIM, the next issue of Taproot!
Forgive the radio silence in this space, for the Taproot team is super busy behind the scenes on so many good things coming right around the bend. Not the least of which is our next issue, RECLAIM, due out later this month….and some new things too. Like a 2014 Taproot Calendar with the lovely Phoebe Wahl! Oh yes. That, and so many more good things to come in 2014. Stay tuned for details SOON!
At our editorial meeting this week, Meredith and I finalized the 2015 issue theme words that the whole team dreamed up together last month. A fabulously fun task, indeed. Though we have a whole year to go first (with BREATHE, SEED, MEND, and BREAD to come in 2014), we’ll then be working with…
And now I find myself daydreaming about the start of 2015! Oh my!
For details on submitting to Taproot, please visit our submission page. We continue to be inspired by all that comes our way, and so glad to include your work in our pages. Thank you!
In the Yoke section this row should say:
Next row body only dec row: (RS) *Knit to 3 sts before marker, ssk, k1, sl m, knit across sleeve sts, sl m, k1, k2tog; rep from * one time, knit to end—(4 sts dec’d) 22 (29, 26, 31, 37, 39, 41, 47, 48, 48) sts rem.
In the hood section, after the decrease row, the pattern says to repeat the inc row but this should say:
Rep dec row….
We had a lot of fun putting these jars together last month for our Taproot Gathering at Squam. They were a hit there, and everywhere we’ve been since, people have been asking about them. Without further adieu, we’re happy to tell you they can now be found in the Taproot shop! Head on over there for details and to purchase your own.
There’s really just no place quite like the MOFGA Common Ground Country Fair. Full of food, farm, family, and craft (oh you know, just a few of our favorite things!), we couldn’t think of a more perfect place to usher in fall.
This past weekend, we were welcomed to Unity, Maine with two days of beautiful blue skies, which then turned eerily grey and gloomy…..
…..but just in time for happy farewells, burst through bright and serene again.
The perfect ending to an inspiring weekend full of blue ribbon winners, thoughtful educational workshops, loads …and loads… and loads of delicious local food, dreamy fibers and handicrafts, and lots of good folks to share good times with over a busy three days.
We so appreciated seeing familiar friends mixed with new encouraging faces. A sincere thank you to all of you who stopped by with a hello, kind word, helpful suggestion and yes, we were so grateful for all of the new subscribers too (THANK YOU!). We loved hearing about how you stumbled upon your first issue, how you’re sharing subscriptions as special gifts, how you’ve discovered connections in the pages and found a sense of community, and how much you would like to see us out and about more.
And with that, we leave you with a few snapshots from our time together, while we here reflect on your ideas and enthusiastically brainstorm where we’ll venture out to next.
Phoebe, Andrea, Jason and I are all settled into Unity, Maine getting ourselves ready for the Common Ground Country Fair which begins tomorrow morning. The weather in the next three days looks to be beautiful, the food delicious, the people most wonderful, as always. If you’re headed this way, we hope you’ll stop by to say hello! We’d love to see you.
We hope you’re savoring these last precious days of summer as much as we are here. It’s hard to believe that in only a few short weeks we’ll shift into a new season yet again. Hot apple cider, cozy wool sweaters and vibrant autumn colors, we’ll see you soon.
And speaking of shifts into the new, we’re delighted to share that our latest installment, ISSUE 7::GATHER, is fresh from the press and now making its way to subscriber mailboxes near and far. If that includes you, Hooray and Thank You! If not, worry not, there’s still time to subscribe and receive this new issue. It has quickly become one of our most favorite, and not just because, as a subscriber bonus only, it includes a poster of the cover with the theme word in artist Nikki McClure’s distinctive script!
But inside you’ll also find thoughtful essays and reflective art, and– as a result of your feedback from our reader survey–a bigger than ever before Hands section, with plenty of patterns, projects and recipes to keep our hands busy as we head into the season ahead. But don’t just take our word for it, pop on over for a peek inside the pages now.…
The people behind the magazine! Here we all are, at a recent Taproot staff gathering at Parker Pie in Vermont (we do love ourselves some Parker Pie while strategizing, dreaming new things up and pouring over the pages-in-progress of Taproot). From left to right – Jason Miller, Meredith Winn, Jessie Ojala, Marcia Jaquith, Amanda Blake Soule, Ted Blood, and Andrea Littell.
So when we sent out our Taproot survey a little while back we thought we might receive a handful of responses, and we were okay with that. Any insight is appreciated insight after all. But we’re here to tell you that in the end we received nearly 2,500 thoughtful replies full of invaluable ideas and suggestions and we could not be more grateful.
A few things we learned…
- The majority of you are between the ages of 25-44
- More than 60% of you live in rural settings or small cities of 100k residents or less
- Over 80% of you save your issues for 6 months or more
- Nearly 60% of you share your issues with 1-3 people and spend 2-3 hours reading each issue
- Most of you would like to see more DIY projects within the pages and new items like illustrated greeting cards, notecards and calendars in our Print Shop (we hear you!)
And you have loads of shared interests including gardening, baking and cooking, sewing, knitting and crocheting, parenting, canning and preserving too.
Your insight confirmed some of our hunches, brought to light fresh perspectives and has given us a clearer sense of our future direction. We humbly thank you all for taking a time out to share your two cents!
Ehem… but back to the main task at hand: The big announcement of our survey raffle winner!
Drum roll, please….
And the winner is….
Congrats Julie! We’ll be sending you a set of Michelle Kroll’s wonderful woodcuts from ISSUE 3:: RETREAT and a full set of Taproot back issues (that’s right, Issue 1-6) to enjoy or to share soon! Keep your eyes on your inbox for details…
Many thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts with us. Please feel free to keep that feedback coming! We greatly appreciate your encouragement and support.
Ah, misadventures in homesteading. We all have them, right? In homesteading, in parenting, in life, in anything we put ourselves completely into – whether new at it or not (but especially, of course, when we’re new at it). The best we can do, I think, from these little bumps in the road is to brush ourselves off; get back up and at it, having learned a thing or two; and commiserate with those beside us, laughing all the while. We have to keep laughing at ourselves.
And so it is this week, that I bring you some recent lessons I’ve learned after one particularly exciting evening in my garden. A schooling straight from my bees…
1. Despite my comfort around those darling honeybees, simple little precautions really always should be taken. And perhaps, when I’m operating a ridiculously loud lawnmower later in the day when all the bees are home, I should not get so close to the bees so as to accidentally “bump” into their hive, thereby shaking their house and freaking them out. (A natural reaction for anyone who’s home has just been shaken, yes?) Obviously, grass clippers are the ‘right’ answer here, and if you had asked me how to trim the grass in front of the hives one week ago, that would be the answer I gave (and clearly not the advice I followed in that moment when I was in a hurry to get the job done).
2. in a hurry to get the job done is not a recipe for success.
3. If one has a feeling the bees might be upset, which is then followed by a large number of bees flying around nervously, plus one is not wearing any protecting gear? Perhaps it is best to back away from the situation. Calmly but promptly. Ignoring it and continuing on? Maybe not so much.
4. It would be best in that situation, once one decides to leave the scene, not to freak out, nor run straight forward through the middle of said nervous bees. Wearing a black skirt and a black tank top. With no veil. (Ahem.)
5. And even if one mistakenly does do all of that, and then looks down to see herself covered in bees while beginning to be stung all over by the defensive team of bees feeling (rightfully so) under attack? Well. At that point, it would not be a good idea to quickly remove the shirt over her head, inside out, thereby putting all those bees that were just on the shirt into her hair. Her long, thick head of hair, where those bees could quite likely get even more confused, defensive and oh my goodness, completely trapped.
Ah, so many lessons learned in just five minutes! To my credit, I suppose, after all of those mistakes (so many!), there were a few things I then did right. With help, I did get all of the bees out of my hair, and then removed all the stingers we could find. I treated all the stings and myself with apis mellifica and honey (it does really help with the stings). When I started to feel “funny”, I took an antihistamine. Then when I felt nauseous, dizzy and my breathing felt constricted, I sat with my son’s epi pen and waited for the ambulance to take me to the hospital. There, with gratitude and great embarrassment at the predicament I was in, I partook in all the lovely quick modern medicines that do good things in such a situation, waited the reaction out and tried not to beat myself up too much, nor think about the feeling of all those bees trapped in my hair (I will never forget that feeling).
To be very very clear, I do not want to do a public disservice to the gentle, lovely honeybees of the world with my tale of foolishness. I assure you (see the lessons above!), this particular fiasco was 100% operators error. (Please don’t take away my apiary license!) It’s said that only one percent of honeybee stings result in anaphylactic shock. And just because I had such a reaction this time, it’s only a little bit more likely that it will happen to me again. I’ve now learned my lesson(s). And now, I’ve got some apologies to make to a few thousand little cute and fuzzy creatures. Yes, I’ll be the one in the garden by the hives, wearing a veil, and giving thanks to those honeybees for the schooling they gave me.
Taproot contributor Kimberly Peck’s light-filled photos of farm life have appeared in the pages of all of our issues (as well as the postcards we sent to subscribers with ISSUE 6::WATER) except our first, so naturally we’re excited to see her expanding her project of documenting modern farm life with her new “kickstarted” book, Farm, Food, Life. As I write this, she’s close to reaching her goal, but could use a little help to put her over the top. If you’re interested, head on over and take a look at the details.
We could really use your help. As we plot the future of Taproot, we’d be grateful to hear what you think of the magazine, website and more. Even if you haven’t yet subscribed or your subscription has lapsed, your feedback matters. Your insights and opinions will help us continue to evolve, grow and stay true to our mission of remaining independent and ad-free.
As a “Thank You” we’re raffling off to one lucky winner a set of Michelle Kroll’s wonderful woodcuts from ISSUE 3::RETREAT and a full set of Taproot back issues (that’s right, Issues 1-6) to enjoy or to share. The raffle will take place July 31 and be announced with survey results shortly thereafter.
Now, I won’t take up any more of your time, but hope you’ll give just 5 minutes of yours.
We’ve just updated our list of retailers who stock Taproot on our website. We’re in all 50 US states, in stores large and small. This is where you come in. Do you know of a craft store, food coop, bookstore or other place where Taproot would fit in (but not for too long–we do want them to find permanent homes!)? If you do, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Above: Taproot on the magazine rack at the New Seasons Market in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Taproot contributor Michelle Kroll.)
Last Saturday we went to a 4th of July get-together at our friends’ home in the town of Glover, VT (also home of Parker Pie!) about 20 miles north of Hardwick. A few of us sat around and chatted while others (including most of the kids) went for a swim at Lake Parker. After that, things proceeded as you might expect. A little grilling, a little too much eating, a few sparklers lit as the sun began to fade and then the incessant questioning from the kids as they took breaks from running around: “When will they start?”
You see, our friends’ front yard is the perfect location to view two nice-sized fireworks displays (as well as a couple of stray personal displays.) Of course, your’re probably saying to yourself, “last I checked, Saturday was the 6th, not the 4th.” I’ll do my best to shed some light on that (pun intended), but bear in mind that my information may be suspect given that I’m not native. It seems that one of the peculiarities of Vermont (though perhaps other parts of the country suffer this strange tradition?) is that 4th of July fireworks in many towns are set off on the 5th or 6th, and not just when the 4th falls on a weekday. Even if the 4th fell on a Saturday, the fireworks wouldn’t necessarily occur that day in a lot of places.
I asked around of people who had been in Vermont at least one generation and the prevailing opinion was that small towns had their fireworks not on the 4th so that local people (mostly farmers and other small town folk) could trek over to the big city (Burlington, VT) fireworks and still attend their own celebrations. Sounds plausible and I’d like to believe it, but whatever the reason, I’m happy to have the chance to see more than one display a year.
What about where you are? Are fireworks on the 4th? If you know why Vermont has this tradition, I’d love to know that also. Just drop me an email.
We take our editing job at Taproot Magazine very seriously. Oh yes. Despite the fact that our recipes arrive thoroughly tested and ready for the pages, it never fails that I feel obligated to give them another run myself. Ahem. Not really at all – it’s an absolute delight and total perk, I’d say, to get the sneak peek on the goodness that is to come. Such as this recipe by longtime contributor Ashley English to be included in the pages of our upcoming issue, GATHER. My family quite enjoyed it for dinner tonight. For the second time this week. Yum.
More knitting! More sewing! More weaving and painting! We’re excited to announce some additions to the lineup of a Taproot Gathering at Squam, coming up this September. You can find a little peek in the video above, and find all the details about classes and registration on the website for a Taproot Gathering at Squam. We hope to see you there!
Each time that we send out a new issue, it seems that we receive a note from a reader along the lines of: Why are all of the contributors straight, married, rural Caucasians? As you might imagine, open- and broad-minded person that I’d like to believe I am, this inquiry hits me squarely in the gut and causes no end of introspection and concern. There are so many ways to answer this question, but I’ll attempt few.
- Submissions: Our submission policy is completely open. Take a look at it here. We request a short bio and publication history, but make decisions about inclusion completely on the merits of the work submitted. We don’t use anything we might glean from 100 word bios about marital status, sexual orientation or race when making these decisions.
- Transparency: We have decided to treat all of our contributors equally within the pages and in the contributor section of the website. Everyone gets a bio and image (sometimes a head shot, sometimes not). Because of this, you can see the skin color (and gender, but more on that later) of everyone who has been a part of the issue. Many (most?) magazines do not do this, so you would have no way to know the racial/gender/sexual orientation make up of the contributors.
- Youth: We are 6 issues into Taproot. That translates to just about a year and a half, so we’re just on the cusp of magazine toddlerhood. Each issue takes about 3 months to produce, but planning the issue happens 3-6 months before that, so the pipeline for developing new talent (of any kind) actually takes quite a while.
- Assumptions: We all do it. We read something and then fill in the blanks. The truth is, we can’t know a person from a 100 word bio or even a 4000 word essay. Are they married or just not? Are their kids biological or adopted? Are they Biracial? Bisexual? Transgendered? Just because something is left out doesn’t mean it’s not there. I’d like to think that we’ve created a space (and a culture, though that one’s more dubious) where people don’t feel a need to say “lives with her husband and one biological Caucasian child and two adopted biracial children”. Better to say 3 children, because that’s what they are to loving and accepting parents; there should be no distinction!
The irony of this discussion is that what no one ever points out is that the overwhelming majority (90%+) of our contributors are female. Perhaps because most of our readership is female this goes unnoticed (we all have our blind spots), but it is to me (as a man) the single most disconcerting disparity.
And this is not for lack of trying. Both Amanda and I have worked hard to find male writers (it’s easier to tell someone’s gender by their name than their race or sexual orientation), but it has been a real struggle to find males interested in contributing. However, even if we found a secret stash of them tomorrow, it would take another 6 months before you would see them in the magazine (see #3 above).
So here’s my challenge to you: If you know of, are friends with, or are a person who is not currently represented in the pages of Taproot but are interested in the topics we cover and in being published, be in touch! Submit something! Send it to: email@example.com. I assure you your piece will be read and considered on its merits.
Regular contributor to Taproot Ben Hewitt‘s new book, Saved: How I Quit Worrying About Money and Became the Richest Guy in the World was published yesterday. To celebrate, he had a reading at our local independent bookstore The Galaxy Bookshop. The chairs were all filled well before the 7:00 start time and the event became standing (and sitting-on-the-floor) room only well before Ben was introduced by Galaxy owner Linda Ramsdell. For half an hour, Ben provided context and background for the development not only of the book, but the transformation of his own perceptions of money. A lively discusion followed between the audience, Ben and one of the primary subjects of the book, Erik Gillard, an artist and mentor to children who, at the time of the writing, lived quite comfortably on less than $10,000 per year. (Erik has also graced the pages of Taproot in ISSUE 2::PATHS, illustrating Ben’s piece on dropping out of school.) I encourage you all to pick up a copy at your (local, independent) bookstore (I hope you still have one!) or have your library get a copy for your community to share. Like his previous books The Town that Food Saved and Making Supper Safe, this is no dry tome, but one filled with the humor, self-deprecation and empathy, all conveyed in lively prose, that we have come to expect from him. -jason
Squam Art Workshops
Saturday, June 8, 7:30 – 10pm
. . . .
Our bags are packed, and we’re (almost) ready to go. Squam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire is where we’re headed for Squam Art Workshops, of course. On Saturday night, everyone is welcome to attend the much-loved Art Fair there – for directions, a list of vendors and more details, visit the Squam website. There’s also an open-to-the-public Ravelry Revelry celebration on Saturday afternoon if you’d like to make a date of it (those details can be found here).
Jason and I will both be at the Art Fair on Saturday night with back issues of Taproot and giclee prints from our pages and artists. If you’re there, please do stop by to say hello and tell us what you think of the magazine, or what you’d like to see from us in the future. It’s a pleasure to connect with you in person.
We hope to see you there!
Currently, on our little family homestead, we are feeding:
9 only-sometimes-laying laying hens
10 dominique chicks
5 black australorp pullets
6 silver laced wyandotte pullets
44 freedom ranger pullets
Which, if my math is correct, totals 60 birds. And…we just bought our first dozen eggs in almost three years.
Sometimes the math of homesteading doesn’t always make a lot of sense. So we laugh, try to plan better for next year, feel grateful for the local farmers who have enough eggs to sell this season, and remember that soon enough we’ll be back in the business of eggs, and with it, the joy of all the scrambled eggs, quiche, fritatta and boiled eggs we could wish for.
Any time is the perfect time for giving the gift of Taproot (though Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and Taproot makes a lovely last-minute gift!). Should you be so inclined, we’ve created a new batch of downloadable cards that you can print off and give or mail to the recipient to announce the impending arrival of their first issue. The first issue of new subscriptions is not too far off from mailing either, as ISSUE 6::WATER is being printed as we speak and will mail out very soon.
Above you see pictured the bane of my winter existence, the frost-free hydrant next to our barn. You will note that water is coming from its spout. This is a wholly new development. Since January 29, when it froze up, we hauled water down from the house in two pails six gallons at a time, at least three times per day. Some background might be instructive for those unfamiliar with the frost-free hydrant. In theory, and I say in theory because it never works out this way for us, the pipe that runs into the ground from the handle is into the ground deep enough that it doesn’t freeze, at least three and sometimes four feet. Since this one was put in three years ago, it has frozen up around the middle to end of January.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, if it happens each and every blessed winter, then why don’t you dig the dang thing up and fix it. All I can credit is my natural Pollyanna-ism, which I’ve now been adequately disabused of; the thing gets pulled up and fixed this summer. And the funny thing is, I should have known better this year. The night before it froze up, our water pump in the house (the frost-free runs off our house water) kept coming on. This only happens when the ground gets really cold and causes the pipe down in the ground to contract and start leaking. Usually I’ll then go down to the basement and shut off the valve that runs down to the frost-free.
Now, I could kick myself for not taking the five minutes and turning it off in the basement each and every time I heard the pump kick on, but I’d followed that regimen the year before and it didn’t ultimately make a difference except that I had to go down to the creepy basement 3 or 4 times a day. So that next day I got out the propane torch and boiled water and tried to heat the pipe. No dice. No water. For several days thereafter and intermittently through March and April, I’d go down to the basement, turn on the water and go out to the frost-free and wrench on the handle. No dice. No water. I’d curse it pull violently on the handle. By mid April when it still wasn’t working, Rachael and my plumber friend Paul were convinced that I’d broken it and there’d be nary a drop out of it until we dug it up some time in the Summer.
But then our friend Susan (a real Vermonter) was over last week and declared in that way that lets you know she’s seen too many very cold, long winters that the ground might now be thawed down to the three or four feet. I figured she might be right since just a couple of weeks before we couldn’t sink a post for a new gate for the cow more than twenty inches. So this week I made the trip down to the basement (while Rachael was milking so she couldn’t laugh at me should I fail), flipped the valve on the pipe and walked down to the frost-free. Lifting the handle, I heard a gurgle and I’ll be damned if the water didn’t start flowing. “What’s that?” Rachael called from her crouched position next to the cow. “Oh nothing,” I replied, “only I just fixed the frost-free.” “That’s nice,” she said.
So there we were, about to fix a special breakfast of french toast, when I said to Rachael, “You bought butter, right?” She hadn’t. But then she said, “I think there’s enough milk to skim to make butter.” So down the kids went to the fridge we keep in the garage for milk customers, to fetch up a few gallons to skim. “Remember, oldest milk first!” we reminded them. (We date the milk on the top of the jar so customers can always take the freshest milk.) I started frying up the toast in lard and she set to the butter-making. She skimmed off the cream with a ladle and ran it through the food processor, our modern butter churn. Drained and washed, we had the little ball you see pictured. Perhaps not the “best” butter we’ve ever made; it is not the unbelievably golden yellow it will be since Violet’s still on hay. (The grass has only just started to green up and we’re a month yet from letting her out to graze.) But boy did it taste good. If you don’t have a cow already, I highly recommend it. Butter alone is worth the work.
I couldn’t help but photograph and share with you the synchronicity of the morning activity here in our home. My son Harper with a family favorite book in his hands, Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure. And me, beside him, with the first round page proofs of our next issue, number 6, WATER….with cover art by none other than Nikki McClure. What a delight it is to feature her work on the front of our magazine (I do declare WATER to be my favorite yet), and what a delight is in store for you inside the pages of this issue, too.
Although this morning, I woke to frozen precipitation and the forecast calls for freezing nights and little better during the days, I know King Winter is loosening his grip. So, I say to you: Happy Spring! To celebrate, we’re offering $5 off Gift Subscriptions as well as our Spring-y signed prints from Phoebe Wahl (Wandering through Spring) & Clayton Thompson (Between the Rows).
Here at Taproot, excitement has been building as we put the final touches on and find ourselves closer and closer to our first ever Taproot Gathering at Squam to be held this coming September. If you’re visiting us here on Ramblings, then you likely already know us at the magazine, but perhaps Squam Art Workshops is new to you. Check out the video above for a little glimpse into the goodness that is Squam.
Registration opens this coming Monday, April 8th. Elizabeth, creator of Squam Art Workshops and our partner in this Gathering, is – like us – a fan of doing some things the old-fashioned way. Each registration form is processed by hand, with careful thought given to each attendee’s schedule and housing needs and desires. In order to do that, registration is done on paper and in the mail, with forms needing to be postmarked April 8th or later. So if you’re planning on joining us (hooray!), be sure to print out the forms you need this weekend and get those right in the mail. We’re so looking forward to gathering with some of our contributors and many of our readers for five days of learning, connecting, and nurturing this community.
Of course, we know it’s not possible for all of us and you to be there at this particular gathering, so please do stay tuned as we grow this idea of Gatherings into 2014. As always, if you have ideas and thoughts for us, we’d love to hear from you!
For most of this first year of Taproot’s existence, I have been performing my publishing/layout/design/marketing duties two feet from where I sleep. Naturally, this arrangement has its advantages (a short commute and convenient nap space are just a couple) but the time has come for the magazine to grow up a little and that means a proper (small) office and a bit of help are in order. In particular, we need some regular help with customer service (answering phone calls, emails and the like) as well as help with the miscellaneous tasks that want doing but never seem to get done. Truth is, Amanda and I have more ideas than we have hours in the day (or days in the week) to move them along. As my wife Rachael forever reminds me, even if something doesn’t seem like it will take any time at all, there are only so many five minutes in the day. If you’re wondering, there are 288 five minutes, but that assumes no sleep. And I’ve decided I need to sleep.
This is where you come in. Do you live in Hardwick, VT or the surrounding area? Are you interested in being involved in our plan to take over the world, one garden, sewing machine and contemplative moment at a time? If so, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk.
In our latest issue, DREAM, contributor Stacy Brenner shared her story of the unique way in which she and her husband John Bliss have come to define “farm” and farm ownership through their work and lives at Broadturn Farm. I thought some of you might like this peek into their world, via Pull-Start Pictures as a part of the Meet Your Farmer series they created.