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Written for the first version of the website in 2000
I do not know when Green Hope Farm was really born. I was slow to wake up to what was unfolding here. As I look back, I see that the seeds of what was to happen were visible from my first encounter with this land, yet I didn't see it then. Perhaps later I will say this again about other things that unfold here. Life at Green Hope Farm has been one unexpected gift after another! The first time I saw the land that was to become Green Hope Farm was in 1980. I was driving around with a friend in a borrowed pick-up truck, exploring the back roads of Meriden, NH. We stopped at the crest of the hill (where the farm sits now) and climbed over the barbed wire that ringed the property. What an amazing view greeted us! I distinctly remember thinking "This is Heaven on Earth." I then got back in the pick-up truck and didn't get back to this land for six more years.
"I remember an acquaintance walking into my pantry and, seeing the hundreds of bottles of Flower Essences, commenting, 'Molly, you have a business here.'"
Sometimes I imagine what the Nature Spirits who saw me that day said to one another: "Oh, there she is. She'll be back, but first she has to begin to wake up." I wish I had known this myself. My husband and I were living in a dorm of forty teenage boys at the school where we worked. While I loved the relationships I had with the students, I desperately wanted a place to REALLY garden. The tiny plot out front of the dorm, subject to the athletic enthusiasm of all those boys, just didn't count. We searched for several years for a piece of land, and sometimes I felt I would never find a place to farm. In retrospect, the disparity between my "I'll be in a dorm the rest of my life" talk and what actually happened is a good reminder to me to pay no attention to the pessimism of the mind. An incredible place was on its way, but in God's own time. A particularly low moment for my runaway mind came when the deal for a farm fell through in the eleventh hour. How glad I am for that! This land is more beautiful than anything I could ever have even dreamed of, and that other farm... well, it was on Hell Hollow Road. Not exactly an address like the one that came with this land- True Road.
One day, after more disappointments in our land search process, Teddy Grobe (who lives next door at True Farm) insisted I go stand on this land. I told her I didn't want to fall in love with one more piece of land I couldn't have. In an unusually forceful way (for her), she insisted I go out on the field again. It was another Sound of Music moment. I twirled like Maria Von Trapp as hawks circled a porcupine waddled into view, and all sorts of other unusual animals, birds and insects hovered. The Universe was finally saying, "YES, THIS IS IT!" Miraculously, when I approached the farmer who had owned the land since 1938, he was ripe to sell. In the years that followed, this farmer took me under his wing. We went to farm workshops all over New England together, and he supported me at every juncture, even as the kind of farming which I was doing departed from the norm.
Meanwhile, my husband's family convinced us we really could build a home for ourselves. Jim's father promised to teach us what we would need to build a farmhouse. He then spent the next few years following through on his promise, teaching Jim to plumb and wire, frame and do finish work, roof and shingle, etc. etc. There is not a corner of this house that isn't a reflection of Jim's dad's love and their tireless partnership.
During the years 1987 and 1988, while Jim built our farmhouse with a lot of help from family and friends, I took on the gardens. By the time of the Harmonic Convergence (and what was that one about, again?), we had a good acre sown in soil-building buckwheat. I had planted trees and berry bushes, asparagus beds and fruit trees, shrubs and perennials. In retrospect I am awed by how much was begun. I thank the Nature Spirits who gave me such strength, cheered me on and added their oomph to each shovel of manure I moved.
My relationship with the Nature Spirits was an evolving one. As a child, I knew they were there but didn't know exactly what to do with that knowledge. I loved them and talked to them, but didn't believe I would ever be able to really hear them. As I began to farm this land, I just hoped to honor them as best I could. In particular, I hoped my basic landscaping decisions were in accord with their desires for the land. A woman who owned a nursery in nearby Cornish, NH was willing to trade me trees and shrubs for my labor. She had a very unusual assortment of specimens and the diversity of my early plantings is a testament to her. Amazingly, the architecture that I created in my first seasons' endeavors and the choice of plants has worked exceedingly well with what came later. Barns, new gardens, the placement of our first Flower Essence headquarters -- all harmonized with the overall plan begun in 1987. I see this as evidence that love for Nature can open the way for someone to receive very correct and specific guidance without even knowing it.
The Nature Spirits had a curriculum for me, which included reading many books about Findhorn, a community in Scotland built from cooperation among Angels, Nature Spirits or Elementals and Humans. By 1989, I was fully committed to working consciously with the Nature Spirits and Angels of the farm. I spent much time listening in my heart for their guidance. The unusual and arduous directions I began to receive in my meditations made me know I wasn't talking to myself. "Take down all your raised beds. They don't work on this windy hillside. You need to use deep mulch instead," was the first piece of guidance that I knew for sure was not me talking to myself. This kind of difficult direction gave me confidence that I was not imagining our dialog. I knew the suggestion was right because the beds were dry and desiccated by the wind. I also knew that, given how much time had gone into building the forty raised beds and how much time it would take to dismantle them, it was not anything I would suggest to myself! By the summer of 1990, I was full tilt into creating very unusual garden geometries with my friends, the Nature Spirits' very specific guidance, and yes, I was making Flower Essences, too.
I made the first Flower Essences without knowing what they were for or why I was making them. I loved all the beauty that unfolded as I followed the Angels' and Elementals' advice on gardening. If they wanted me to make something called Flower Essences, then I was ready and willing. The first couple of summers I made many Flower Essences from Flowers in the vegetable and perennial gardens. I kept a logbook of how I was directed to use each Essence for my family and myself. I took dictations from the Angels about what each Flower Essence was for. I read a little bit about Essences, mostly to make sure I wasn't completely off track, and the little I read encouraged me to leave behind whatever literature I could find and have the Angels, Nature Spirits and dear God be my only guides.
I remember an acquaintance walking into my pantry and, seeing the hundreds of bottles of Flower Essences, commenting, "Molly, you have a business here." I laughed and told her that they were just for my family. I didn't take her remark at all seriously even though it was the only logical conclusion one could make from the fact that I had enough Essences to take care of half the United States! By the time there was no room in the pantry for anything but Flower Essences, I had begun to realize maybe she was right, but lots of other things were unfolding at the same time too. From the moment when I planted the first Green Hope Farm garden in conscious cooperation with the Nature Spirits and the Angels, the farm attracted a lot of visitors. In 1993, I decided to open the gardens on a more formal basis to those who wanted to see what gardens created in cooperation with the Nature Spirits looked and felt like.
Several friends and fellow gardeners agreed to join me as partners in opening the farm for tours and tea. We were guided in the creation of about a dozen large gardens. As with the previous four growing seasons, the Angels and Elementals told us what shape each garden would be, how the rows would be laid out and what was to be in each row. The gardens were complicated mandalas, with circular rows and star geometries, tunnels of flowers and patchworks of unusual specimens. The luminous, mysterious, healing Eight Garden was born that year, later to be reborn as the Venus Garden. Some of the gardens were perennial beds, but many were newly dug and filled only with annuals. We worked from the Winter Solstice to the Summer Solstice to get ready to open the gardens.
On a soggy June afternoon, we welcomed our first crowd. We took folks through the gardens, telling the adventures and misadventures of our newly created community endeavor. After they were completely wet, we ushered our visitors into our new barn to dry out and savor Teddy Grobe's goodies and tea. We had filled the barn with flowers, vegetables, arts and crafts, books, and Flower Essences. The Flower Essences had been something I had shared with others for several years, but not in a large scale way. We were surprised and thrilled that so many people wanted to take a tangible vibrational reminder of the gardens with them when they left, and that for the visitors this meant the Flower Essences. When the Angels told me to arrange for UPS pick-up in midsummer, I was sure that the Angels were being wildly optimistic, but of course they were not.
So many people came to the gardens and so many of them wanted more Flower Essences when their first bottles ran out! Our mail order business was born. It was time to write the first edition of our "Guide to Green Hope Farm Flower Essences." Lynn Tidman and I began our series of epic trips to make Flower Essences on the island of Bermuda. Travels to the Adirondacks also brought a beautiful harvest of new Essences. Meanwhile, back in the gardens, we were surfing a big beautiful wave of interest in our work. Never in our wildest dreams had we expected so many people and so much interest in the gardens. People were coming from all over the country to visit the gardens, and Teddy was baking up a storm. We were so busy with tours that it was hard to find time to even weed the gardens. It was a celebration, an event, a nonstop circus of a party. I am glad we could open so many eyes to the beauty of working in concert with the Nature Spirits. That summer was our chance to share our passion for flowers, vegetables, herbs, Flower Essences, gardens and most of all, the wonderful Nature Spirits behind all of it.
Come fall, our living room had become an office, our playroom the shipping room, and basically we had about two shelves for food in our enormous pantry, which was filled to capacity with hundreds and hundreds of bottles of Flower Essences. Lynn Tidman, who has worked here from day one, still loves to regale all the staff with her stories about the years our house and business were one and the same space. In fact when it came time to build the Flower Essence addition, she worried that it was going to be dull to have the office in a separate space! Her worries were for naught. There continue to be many humorous events unfolding here, nearly on an hourly basis.
By the middle of the next winter, the mail order business had grown so much that it was clear that it would be very difficult to keep both the mail order and the garden tour "balls" in the air. We asked the Angels and Nature Spirits for advice. Together we decided that the best way to share the vibration of the gardens with the most people was with the Flower Essences. The Angels told us that if we really wanted to make the very best Flower Essences that we could, then it would be very important to keep the gardens closed so that the Nature Spirits and the Angels could build up the energies in the gardens to a very high level and thus facilitate the creation of Flower Essences of a very high vibration. At first none of us realized that, as the years unfolded, this would mean that all of us on the staff would be asked to stay out of certain gardens for weeks on end.
In 1995, we built the much-needed Flower Essence wing onto the farmhouse. A wonderful finish carpenter built us beautiful storage racks for all the bottled Essences and all sorts of other needed furniture, including a shipping desk. Almost as soon as we had moved into our new space, it was clear that we needed more room. Jim's brother Stephen, who is an industrial engineer, analyzed all our systems for space and time efficiency. He revolutionized the way we do practically everything, thus making it possible for us to work from this small facility. Stephen also built our two much-loved bottling gizmos.
Having continued to grow since 1995, we find ourselves once more in need of a significantly larger space. Our hope is to build a new building for Green Hope Farm Flower Essences next summer. Jim has spent the last two summers honing his skills building a cabin in the Adirondacks. The place on the farm where the new building will sit is being prepared, and Jim is keeping his nail belt handy.
The evolution of Green Hope Farm has been a wonderful adventure. As we grow, we connect with more of you, and it is like having family all over the world! Truly, I had no idea how many friends I would make through doing this work. It really is a most amazing thing. I get to garden in this incredibly beautiful spot with the impeccable guidance of beloved Angels and Nature Spirit friends, work with an incredibly fun and devoted group of people and send Flower Essence love out to wonderful folks all over the planet. I am grateful!
Written for the first website in 2000
I love Flowers. Have you noticed? My lifelong adventures with Flowers began with sludgy brews of Goldenrod tea. The invited guests, my dolls Heidi and Wendy, were polite. They drank their tea without complaint. Later, I branched out and offered my wild foods concoctions to a more particular group of diners; my parents and siblings. If the skunk cabbage pancakes had tasted better, this book might not be in your hands. But the pancakes were really bad. No one would eat them. My family did not like the sautéed cattail tubers or wild chokecherry jam either. At age ten, I abandoned a career as a wild foods chef and looked to the Flowers for different ways to share their glory with the world.
The Flowers and I never looked back. As a young girl, I painted a watercolor book of Adirondack wildflowers. I started seedlings on the windowsills and planted Flowers at the edges of my family's vegetable garden. I entered Flowers in the local grange fair and wondered at the mysteries of ribbon allocation. Mostly, I visited with every Flower I met in field, parking lot, or garden landscape. No one suffered any digestive woes.
I created my first Flower garden in my early twenties. I dug a small plot outside the boy's dormitory where I lived as a dorm parent. Keeping the Flowers safe from errant Frisbees was a full time job. How happy I was when, in 1987, my husband and I moved with our small children to the hilltop that would become Green Hope Farm. It was bliss to garden to my heart's content without incoming lacrosse balls.
Angels as well as Flowers have been my constant companions since my Goldenrod tea days. But when an Angel whispered in my ear that Flowers and something called Flower Essences were central to my spiritual work in the world, I was surprised. Could my spiritual purpose really be that fun? My life purpose was in the GARDEN with the FLOWERS? I could imagine no happier calling.
Written by Molly Sheehan, Illustrated by Alli Howe
"Life brings so many moments on a farm. There are always flowers and food to add to the joy. Here at Green Hope Farm, when any beloved has something to shout about, we cook up a meal together with bounty from our gardens.
In this cookbook we share with you our favorite recipes for all things cooked and eaten at Green Hope Farm gatherings, large & small. It's with much delight and gratitude to everyone who has ever been a part of this Farm that I share this cookbook with you! I hope you love this cookbook as much as we have loved creating it for you!" -Molly Sheehan
In our cookbook you'll find…
Order a copy for you and one for a friend!
Written by Elizabeth Sheehan
How does one move forward in the turbulent decade after college? What happens when community evaporates, a job ends and relationships crumble? And what's a woman to do when all three fall away simultaneously? This was the crossroads that faced Elizabeth as she set off on the ancient Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Following the intuitive nudge from a recurring dream, she embarked on a six hundred mile trek across Spain.
"I was at loose ends, searching for my place in the world, unsure who I wanted to be and where I belonged."
The thousand year old pilgrim route carried her from high in the Pyrenees in France to a place on Spain's Atlantic coast known as the end of the world. Along the way her solo journey would transform itself into a communal life filled with a cast of international characters, a group that would give her the chance to lay the past to rest and find new love.
It is the story of an ancient land, of pilgrims and of walking. It is a story of the Camino herself.
Lizzy created two collections of Essences while on the ancient pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain:
The Camino Collection holds the wisdom and spiritual momentum of specific places along this thousand year old pilgrimage trail.
Camino 2: The Healer's Toolbox Collection reminds us of the deep link between the physical body and healing work.