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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Sneak Peek! HOMEGROWN Skills Tent Workshops at Farm Aid 2013

Friday, September 6th, 2013


Farm Aid 2013
is right around the corner: September 21 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. And while Willie, Neil, John, and Dave will headline the main stage, Christina, Sheila, Thor, and more will appear live in the HOMEGROWN Skills Tent.

HOMEGROWN-skills-tent-seedsWhat’s the Skills Tent, you ask? And who’s this Christina? On concert day from noon to 6 p.m., the Skills Tent will host hands-on workshops in the agrarian arts, similar to the sort of how-tos you’ll find in the HOMEGROWN 101 library. The Skills Tent is just one part of the HOMEGROWN Village, a county-fair-style hoedown on the concert grounds that’s jam-packed with interactive food and farming exhibits from groups across the country, as well as a HOMEGROWN stage featuring live music. Not bad, huh?

HOMEGROWN-skills-tent-mushroomsBut back to the Skills Tent: HOMEGROWN is thrilled to have had the help of our barn-raising tentmate and partner in can-do, the Capital Region’s own From Scratch Club, in putting together this year’s workshop lineup. If you’re not familiar with From Scratch Club, it’s sort of like a food swap/book club/cooking school/food blog times one hundred. In other words: AWESOME. We love you, From Scratch Club! Now, without further ado, this year’s HOMEGROWN Skills Tent lineup:


» Make Your Mark!

Make your mark on Farm Aid 2013! Share what HOMEGROWN means to you in a potato stamp group art project, presented by

» Kitchen DIY: Can-Do Projects

Learn how to make your own butter and lemon vinegar! Get the dirt on cold storage! Christina Davis and Co. of From Scratch Club share tips all day in between Skills Tent workshops.


12:30 to 1 p.m.
Mushrooms 101: Grow Your Own

Thinking of starting your own shiitake crop? Bobby Chandler of Mariaville Mushroom Men shows you how.

1:30 to 2 p.m.
Makin’ Bacon 101: Cure It Yourself

Curing your own bacon is easier than you think! Erika Tebbens of From Scratch Club demonstrates, using pork bellies from New York’s West Wind Acres.

2:30 to 3 p.m.
Pancakes 101: From Field to Griddle

What’s the story behind your breakfast? Amy Halloran of From Scratch Club and Thor Oechsner of Oechsner Farms and Farmer Ground Flour connect the dots between grain grown and milled in New York State and your plate.

3:30 to 4 p.m.
Cheesemaking 101: Happy Animals Mean Happy Cheese

Good food starts with healthy goats and sheep! Learn the basics of home cheesemaking and goat care with the dairy farmers of New York’s own Nettle Meadow.

4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Fiber 101: Making Friendship Bracelets from Llama Wool

Where does wool come from? Find out, see a spinning demo, and make your own friendship bracelet from llama wool under the tutelage of Saratoga Llamas’ Linda Woods.


Farm Aid 2013 is sold out, but there are still plenty of ways to join the party! Visit for details on farm tours, a free screening of the new urban-farming documentary Growing Cities, and more. And stay tuned to Farm Aid’s About the Concert page for news and updates. See you there!

Join Us on the Road to Farm Aid

Friday, August 30th, 2013


Hello, HOMEGROWN flock! As many of you know, HOMEGROWN is the little sibling of Farm Aid, whose annual benefit concert is coming up fast. Farm Aid 2013 will take place at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York, on September 21, 2013.


Fueling up for the month ahead at    Farm Aid/HOMEGROWN HQ, thanks to our friend and feeder Seta

We’re in full swing here, getting ready for the big day—and we know that many of you are, too. We’re thrilled that so many of you will be attending this year’s concert! In fact, we want to share all of the energy, planning, and good will that goes into the big day, and we want to show everyone the part you’re playing. From artists to family farmers to volunteers to HOMEGROWN Skills Tent presenters to music fans, we’re asking everyone to be part of the Road to Farm Aid!

The #Road2FarmAid will tell the stories of all of the different people working towards a greater vision for our farm and food system. There are lots of ways you can join us on the road:

  • Visit to download official #Road2FarmAid digital swag likesocial media banners, cover images, web badges, and more!
  • Share your own blog posts, photos, videos, status updates, and anything else you can think of using the hashtag #Road2FarmAid. Don’t forget to share your swag to show your friends that you’re on the #Road2FarmAid.
  • Learn how others are celebrating family agriculture by checking out the official #Road2FarmAid feed at You can also explore the hashtag on your favorite social media site to see what’s happening across the country.
  • Connect with others throughout your journey. Make new friends, share what you have learned and learn from others as they cruise along their #Road2FarmAid.

Need some suggestions to get your creative juices flowing? A few ideas:

  • Tweet about your preparations. (“The cooler’s packed full of HOMEGROWN kombucha. Ready for tailgating! #Road2FarmAid”)
  • Share on Facebook the song you hope your favorite Farm Aid artist will play on Sept. 21.
  • Post photos on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter from your road trip to Farm Aid. (Did you stop at a farm stand? See a beautiful barn on the way? Pass a tractor?)

Be sure to use the hashtag #Road2FarmAid so we (and others) can find all of your creative posts and share them with fellow travelers. Farm Aid will be sharing spotlighted content at And be sure to keep an eye on Farm Aid’s About the Concert page for the latest concert news.

HOMEGROWN Life: Milking on the Ridgeline

Thursday, August 29th, 2013


HOMEGROWN LifeEvery Thursday night, a coffeehouse near me hosts an open mic session. Musicians gather to play tunes, practice new material, or just spend time with friends. If my Thursday goes well, once I’m finished with the evening milking I head there to sit for a few hours and listen. I joke that it’s the one night the girls let me out. Most of the musicians are local folks, a few “from away” floating in from time to time. You truly never know who will show up or what you will hear. I like that—a little surprise for your ears.

The place has now become where I meet musicians I’ve recruited to play at our local farmers market. It seems musicians love to play music anywhere, and when the paycheck is a basket full of farm-fresh goodies, it’s a win-win for all of us. I post entries on the farmers market Facebook page about the radishes dancing in the aisles or the lettuce perking up when the music starts. I even find myself dancing around a bit in my stall as I sell cheese, the girls’ fresh milk, yogurt, and sometimes handmade goat-milk caramels.

There’s something about shopping at a farmers market and listening to live music. People meet up with friends while they select their week’s supply of locally grown products directly from the person or people who have harvested or grown or batched or produced them. Wheeling a steely cold shopping cart down a supermarket aisle somehow isn’t quite as appealing as spending part of a morning or afternoon connecting with your food and the people who bring it to your table. Bushel baskets of farm-fresh corn, coolers full of chicken or beef or pork or water buffalo, creamy milk, silky cheese—all with the face of the person who sweated over, fed, milked, nursed, corralled, and sometimes processed it standing behind.

HOMEGROWN-life-dyan-goatsSometimes it’s hard to decide whether to make the effort to go to the coffee house or not. After a day of mucking and milking, tending and batching, packaging and marketing, often the will is there but the body just won’t follow. Usually it’s the nights I’m too dog-tired to drag myself the 12 miles up the road that I miss the best sessions. All nights are good but some stand out as better than others—richer, maybe. Sometimes it the music, sometimes it’s the people, sometimes both.

On one recent night in particular, someone new came: a tall, white-haired gentleman. He sat off to the side, watching folks listen to the musicians as they were called up, one by one. Some attendees were talking over the music, some enjoying cups of iced or hot coffee, a glass of wine, a cold beer, an espresso chocolate chip cookie. This gentleman had signed his name on the play list, since that’s how it goes, and after the applause for the previous performer died down, he picked up his guitar and walked onstage. He was introduced as Thom. He began playing a song, and I noticed he really seemed to enjoy what he was doing. When the first song was finished, he asked for a chair to sat down, made a couple of adjustments to his instrument, and announced that he would play a song called “Ridgeline,” inspired by a visit to Nova Scotia and the scenery he had enjoyed there.

The first notes set the tone for the song. It started slowly, with crisp, clear tones ringing out from the instrument, before it glided into a warm melody. About 30 seconds into the song, I looked around. The entire room had gone quiet. The melody had carried us all to the scene he had described, and no one wanted to break the magic of it. The playing was intricate and delicate, exact and complicated all at the same time. There were pauses, timed phrases. Notes gracefully chosen, sometimes hanging, blended with a background rhythm that simply transported you. No one escaped the haunting beauty of it.

“Ridgeline” is now my milking song. As it turns out, the gentleman is half of a duo, Bennett and Perkins, who have recorded tunes both together and separately. I downloaded the song from the Internet, and it lives in my back pocket on my iPhone. Every day, twice a day, WBACH gets turned down—sorry, girls—and the barn is transformed into a Nova Scotia scene.

HOMEGROWN-life-more-goatWhen Dollie saunters out of her stall, I hit the play button, and as she steps up onto the milking stand, the first notes emerge. By the time I’m full into milking her, we’re running across that meadow in Nova Scotia, heading for the pass that stretches out before us, wildflowers waving in the wind, butterflies floating around us. Once the milk slows down, so does the melody, and as the last of the pure white stuff is safely expressed into the bucket, the song ends on a tiny high note, the period on the end of another fine time with my girl. As each lady takes her turn, I’m transported to those hills again and again. Maybe the girls dream of the Saanen valley in Switzerland, where they originated from. I’m not sure they know about Nova Scotia. They seem to enjoy it, at any rate.

To me, farming and music just seem to go together. I hear music all over the farm every day, if I listen: the “hey, sweetie sweetie sweetie” of a chickadee, a pond symphony in the spring when the peepers emerge, cries from an osprey sailing overhead, my own animals calling out their needs or just saying hello as I move from place to place, going about my chores.

I’ll continue to go to the open mic night as often as I can. I’ve met some amazing folks there doing amazing things, writing great tunes and connecting through music. Thank you, Thom Perkins, for writing a beautiful song, one that takes me to another place every day. The place I’m in is not so bad, but it’s pretty amazing to be able to walk to my barn and end up in Nova Scotia.

Maybe I’ll come across a new tune some week, one I can use while I’m trimming hooves or mucking stalls. Or maybe the music that comes to me from my own flock calling, chickens gurgling to one another, turkeys gobbling to their mates, and my gentle girls nickering is enough to take me through those tasks. Some folks hear what they want to hear; some folks hear nothing at all. I hear the voice of reason and the sound of serenity in the music that comes to me, whether from my animals or from a song inspired by the hills of Nova Scotia, played out on my seaside farm in Maine.

HOMEGROWN-Life-Dyan-profileDyan Redick describes herself as “an accidental farmer with a purpose.” Her farm, located on the St. George peninsula of Maine, is a certified Maine State Dairy offering cheeses made with milk from a registered Saanen goat herd, a seasonal farm stand full of wool from a Romney cross flock, goat milk soap, lavender, woolens, and whatever else strikes Dyan’s fancy. Bittersweet Heritage Farm is an extension of her belief that we should all gain a better understanding of our food source, our connection to where we live, and to the animals with whom we share the earth.