Member of the Month - November 2018

NovemBER'S MEMBER OF THE MONTH: carol collins

We are excited to share NOFA-VT's Member of the Month for November! In this new monthly feature, we'll choose a member to recognize each month as a way to celebrate all the wonderful people that make up the NOFA-VT community. Thank you for being a part of it! 

Why are you a NOFA-VT member?

I never heard of NOFA-VT until the day in the 1980’s I received a phone call from one of my wool-spinning students who actually called me from the Winter Conference at VT Tech in Randolph.  Excited, she shouted “Carol, you have to come down here, right now!  This is YOU.  You would love it.”  I didn’t know what she was talking about.  I was involved with another festival or teaching a class, so I told her I couldn’t go there, now, but I could learn about the organization and possibly become a vendor next year.  I did look into what NOFA-VT was all about, and did become a vendor at the Winter Conference the next year.  I found it was a fit for myself and my business, like Cinderella’s glass slipper was for her foot, and I’ve been a member ever since, because I agree with the goals, the vision, the actions, the work. 

What do you value most about NOFA-VT’s work?

The educational opportunities for teaching and learning.  I especially LOVE sharing what I have learned with those who are really eager to learn. I believe a good teacher is always learning, and I try to improve my teaching every time I am gifted with the opportunity to teach.  

How long have you been a member?

I don’t know exactly, I believe it was somewhere in the 1980’s.

Do you identify as a…. (eater, gardener, homesteader, farmer, etc.)?

I identify with all the possible classifications.  In the first eighteen years, the manure my sheep produced enriched our garden soil.  Throughout the years I spun their wool and taught about sheep farming and spinning wool into yarn.  Our homestead grew and I sold more and more produce from the gardens; Cut flowers from May through October, Ten-herb teas, garlic bulbills, bulbs, garlic, 30 to 40 different kinds of seeds, potted flowering perennial plants and herbs, Rhubarb, Jerusalem Artichokes, and Prepared Horseradish.  I also make cider jelly and jams as time permits, garlic and herb-seasoned salt. So, the gardening, farming, and homesteading are all rolled into one life.  I am never happier than when I am working outdoors on a beautiful day.

How have you been involved with NOFA-VT in the last year?

In February I taught several fiber arts classes that were part of The Children’s Winter Conference.  I was invited to share one of my gardening/farming articles for NOFA NOTES.  A class I proposed was accepted for the 2019 Winter Conference and I’m happy about that because NOFA students are the BEST!  Normally I attend a couple of summer farm visits or workshops, but because we are giving a lot of care to my mom who is almost 104, I’m not able to attend this year.

What's the best garden/farm experiment you did this year?

I conducted many experiments, which failed because of the biggest population ever of gray and red squirrels/chipmunks/mice/moles/voles.  We make our own compost (and buy a lot of it).  Over the years I’ve noticed that the egg shells don’t break down quickly, and their pieces remain in the compost or soil for years.  Now I roast all the eggshells that we produce as a family, using the residual heat from oven baking.  Then I crush them and put them directly on our garden soil.  It will surprise you how many eggshells you will have.  I know they are rich in calcium and protein, and also have some strontium, fluoride, magnesium and selenium. I think it will boost soil nutrition.  

Why does organic matter to you?

The biggest reasons are to protect our health and the health of the earth. Organic matters for all the reasons we can name and more. Philip Ackerman-Leist’s talk last night (at Hunger Mtn. Coop’s Annual Meeting) about a little town in Italy which has banned pesticides and has created a movement across Europe, reminded me of the little booklet I read recently that put all my feelings into excellent written expression.  It’s called “Fathers for Organic” by Alan Greene, M.D. Please follow this link to the PDF document by Dr. Alan Greene.  He writes powerfully what I believe.  After reading it, if you feel it’s important, please share it with as many as you can. 

What's your number one priority for NOFA-VT this year? 

Finding someone to take NOFA-VT forward who has even one tenth the foresight,commitment and drive that Enid has for this great organization.