Meet the Farmer

Calamity Jane: farmer by nature, mama by trade, obsessive thinker in her spare time

Calamity Jane: farmer by nature, mama by trade, obsessive thinker in her spare time

I have a one track mind– I love food. I adore everything which is or can be related to food: cooking, gardening, wild foods, permaculture, homesteading, responsible consumerism, cultural revolution, wilderness ecology and so called “simple living.”  Furthermore, I am blessed/cursed with a lust for learning. I can’t get enough. I like to do stuff, but I also like to read about it, think about it, talk about it and write about it.

I’ve been thinking about sustainable food and trying to figure out how to blend homesteading into a modern community life in Alaska for more than 15 years. I’ve been working on our particular piece of land for 6. I’m nowhere near my ideal of ‘feral Eden’ but I have made good progress.

I found permaculture last fall, and it was love at first sight. A cohesive subject which combines and organizes everything that I care about, everything I’ve spent my life so far learning, under one roof! With an emphasis on research and nature observation, and a mandate for well thought out design, all culminating in the physical labor of working outside to produce food. Permaculture is a pattern for everything I love.

That’s not my real job though, no. I’m a full time mama to two little firecrackers– aged 3 and 6– who bring me both frustration and joy in measures never before imagined. I wrote about the emotional journey of motherhood for someone who is used to getting serious shit done, in my blog Apron Stringz.

Last but not least, I am a wife. My Man is an ass-kicking environmental lawyer, currently working to fight genetically modified salmon and wholesale clear-cutting of the Tongass National Forest. He is extremely cerebral and although he loves wilderness and spends his life defending it, he is entirely uninterested in farming. I like to think we work two different sides of the same coin. We’re partners in the same game, even if our jobs sometimes seem unrelated.

We are a family of many and varied interests, and our lifestyle treads the edge between modern conveniences and back-to-the-land ethics. We enjoy a full bevy of digital devices, yet deeply value and delight in the natural world. We eat locally caught salmon with homegrown kale for dinner and follow it up with boxed brownies. We are passionate, complicated, hypocritical. After living much more radically in our youth, way out in the woods, now we have chosen to live right in the middle of our community and take part in a more significant way.

Trying to be a part of the way things are, while changing them from the inside, is not a “simple life,” but it suits us. We have always been edge dwellers.



  1. Bobdammit I missed you!

  2. Hi! I just stumbled onto to your site and wonder how things are going? I hope that you and your family are well – you’re truly an inspiration!

  3. Hello,

    my name is Melanie Gandyra, I´m a German student living and gardening in Hamburg.
    I´m studying illustration and now working for my graduate project.
    My plan is to make a book about the different kind of HOMEGARDENS all over the WORLD.
    I made a big travel through southeastasia this year.
    It was so inspiring to see all these different handlings with plants in the everyday life of people.

    The reason for wiriting you is, that I need some more information about the country and landscape you´re living in.
    It´s very hard to find good research stuff in the internet,
    and for me it´s not possible to travel to all the countries, I want to have in my book.

    Do you think, you can help me?
    It would be awesome to have pictures from normal houses or gardens,
    and the biggest thing for me would be a little list, with some of the typical plants,
    which are used in the everyday life.

    I also have a big garden here in Hamburg and for me botanic is the most interesting topic to draw,
    read and write about it.
    I invite you to visit my homepage or my Instagram to see my work.

    Thank you for all your attention and I really hope to hear from you.

    All the best and a lot of greets.


    1. Note to readers– I checked out the link, and Melanie’s artwork is beautiful! If you enjoy woodcut style plant art, take a look.

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