Friday, July 7, 2023

personal news

[Above images from this morning's photo lesson with my nephew Finn, back on the farm for the summer]

We have endured a lot of difficulties on the farm this year; I’ve alluded to some of that here, but what I have not disclosed yet is that I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I operate in a world that largely denies facts and absolutes, and so this stands out as a bizarre truth that in many ways feels unreal - and still - after 5 weeks inside the cancer industrial complex, feels like it could still be debunked as mere myth. Remember when we believed that Sarah had cancer! Alas.

Suffice it to say, this surreal time has put a halt on a lot of my plans and capabilities as a farmer and as a leader. I can't work as hard as I was before and have had to ask for help from a lot of friends to help me make some very difficult decisions that hold my personal well being over the farms success. Heartbreaking weeks. 

I much preferred the invincible version of myself that was never sick and who could lift more, work harder, and never stop.

And I don’t have words for what it is to lose a colleague and collaborator (Jess Green) to breast cancer at the same time of discovering my own.

As my friends, friends of this place/project, and followers I ask you to keep coming along and doing this work of thinking alongside me. I've taken a few weeks off from communicating but will get back into writing regularly now that I have some bearings. I will share more about my entire experience in some time but for now I can tell you that I found a small pea sized lump deep in my tiny breasts 5 weeks ago. I went to the doctor the next day and thus began what has been a complete indoctrination into this different world. I have stage 1 estrogen positive invasive ductal carcinoma. Surgery (last week) and treatment forthcoming. Good prognosis. I will write endlessly in the future on the gratitude I have for nurses and the sorcery of western medicine...meanwhile some farm information I want to share:

Friends who have been here, please consider visiting us here this summer. Ways to support are to come, give hugs, help weed, cook, play mahjong with Susan (Susan is the ultimate trooper in this story).

Strangers inclined to send good wishes - I always love getting your letters - 123 de Kay Rd. Esperance NY 12066. 

SUPERNATURE is still happening - there are about 40 tickets left, so please consider coming and celebrating life with us on July 29th (which is also my 43rd birthday!)

I am closing the Coyote Cafe/open Farm Sundays for the season. My weird little experiment of feeding visitors our farm food is a big lift for us every week and it’s been hard to get enough bodies in the space for it to feel worth while. I was (am still) very attached to the ideology of this alternative restaurant and I love cooking and waiting tables, but it doesn’t work financially and needs to be put on hiatus for now as I transition the farm to be a slightly more private place tuned to my own needs. Some of you call it your favorite restaurant, some of didn’t realize it was real and thought it was a joke. Either way, the project will continue perhaps closer to town where it’s easier for people to get to or perhaps with a few dinner nights in the fall if I'm feeling better. 

Amidst the horror and disorientation of that last few weeks, I'm reminded of a few things about myself: I truly love adventure, change and challenging work - I'm laughing as type this. My very curious, very brave self sees this potent moment as an opportunity to reorient myself potentially for the better. I've been wanting radical change for years but kept hitting my head against the wall as to how to affect it. As dark as I can be, I can always, ALWAYS conjure hope. Perseverance is central to my operating system. 

Love to you all, honored to share my stories and rites of passage with you. SR

Friday, June 23, 2023

Floral Residency Recap

We just finished our first floral residency week of the season here. An exceptional, uncanny and productive week with an amazing group of students. They just left yesterday and while I take some time to be quiet and rest, I find myself missing them. Its amazing how attached I get to residents in just a short week’s time…some photos of the weeks work here below….

Many thanks to the team here for supporting this vision of teaching with your help harvesting, cooking, cleaning and running the farm that my floristry practice has found its home in. I am forever grateful for this complex, integrated project whose genesis and continuity rests in making the world more beautiful through flowers. 


Friday, June 16, 2023

brief update


So much beauty happens here everyday, it’s hard to share it all. We’re in the middle of a floral residency with amazing students from all around the globe. Such generous participants in our world here: they are open, kind and willing to go with the flow. Teaching me as I teach them.

I’m afraid my winter verbosity has fully faded and I’m not one for many words here lately. Overwhelm ensues and it turns out I’m not invincible…

Meanwhile life goes on all the same all around me in this ecosystem of people plants animals and their ideas, needs and desires. A wonderfully complex matrix to occupy. Donnie, god damn him, chasing and chewing on lambs again. RAIN! finally after 6 dry weeks. Meltdowns. Crying. Laughing.

Witches casting spells, bringing flowers. Feeding beans. Making ceramics.

In the midst of it all: an inventory. What is needing to remain, what is wanting to be relinquished?

Friday, June 9, 2023

current state of affairs

Our work here continues in joy and sorrow! Exuberant at times, somber in others. Always full to the very brim, regardless of grief. It is some full-catastrophe-living let me tell you!

Sometimes I want a more ‘normal life’ whatever that means. A break, I suppose. To put on a suit, ride the subway and work in a corporate setting can be enticing from this side. The boundaries! The paychecks! The health insurance! The happy hours!

Alas, not my path, and probably not yours, or …not yours for long.

The ceramics residents are embracing making alongside brilliant teacher Kris Mounsey. Chase has been relaying photos to me as I’m off site all week. Surreal to hold this space and also be physically apart from it. I go back tomorrow and will work on more TV coming to you next week. THANK YOU to those of you who have joined us at the beginning of the project! Coming down the pipeline is a video on growing and arranging sweet peas, making tinctures, and yoga for farmer/florists (wrists, shoulders, lower back!)


slowing down is a radical act.

the beloved teacher and weaver Jessica Green passed away last week. She bestowed so many lessons that will reverberate in my work always - namely the usefulness of failure and how to hold power and assist its emergence in others. Few of my colleagues were as influential in my thinking and guiding the Worlds End project. Our ideas and methods didn’t always mesh perfectly and I like to imagine we’re both smiling about that now. Onward my friend.

Friday, June 2, 2023

The launch of


Its been a difficult 10 days here and I don’t want to get into detail but suffice it to say hardship, health scares, life and death have all visited us. We are feeling through the lower part of the sign wave that corresponds to the highs we get from living this sort of rich life. Tess, oblivious to it all, continues to chase the hose when I water the garden - an obnoxious but entertaining performance that I indulge in when I feel overwhelmed by it all.

We launched Saipua TV today after a Herculean effort by the team - mostly Vanessa and Chase who worked out all the minutia and built all the framework and systems so that you can NOW! visit and sign up for a monthly membership to this very special educational platform…

As of now, there are only three videos live, but next week, we’ll add three more, and then they will just start rolling out. These are educational/instructional videos designed to be entertaining and teach you conversationally, the way you would learn something from a friend. It also gives you intimate access to the inner workings of this project.Central to our mission is to inspire you to make something, look twice at something, decorate something, and locate yourself in a web of complexity amidst people, plants, animals, and Earth!

This project is a way for us to fling our ideas and work farther afield (someone from Sweden was the first sign up!) and offers affordable online courses ($15/month). After years of trying to figure out how to better fund the farm, we realized that Saipua TV can scale without compromising the integrity of our work - it’s the same amount of effort whether we sell 100 memberships or whether we sell 10,000 memberships (my goal). That is real capital for the farm - money we can use to get out of debt and one day expand the land trust by buying the neighboring properties that are fallow and vacant.

I need you to sign up. And I need you to give me honest feedback about whether you like it, and what you want to see more of. That’s the only way this works - if we’re making you happy, excited, and inspiring you.

 Meanwhile, I was heading to the sheep this morning and looking around absently. These tough few days - and I will fill you in at some point - have left me questioning more than usual what I believe in, what direction to steer this massive cruise ship, and what my joy or place in it all is. Looking at the tidy garden, the blackboard in the greenhouse, and the healthy sheep program, I thought about something I read somewhere: There is no cinematic music playing when your dreams are coming true. Haha, I thought! Here I am! Dreams coming true.

Thanks for joining me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

From Susan in the soap factory…


Susan writes from the soap factory…

Every once in a while we begin testing a new soap scent. It can be a long process, so not undertaken lightly.

Both Sarah and a private client have requested a Pine Tar soap. Ok…I’ve put it off a bit, because I’m not a fan of pine tar….

But then again…Sarah doesn’t like the Saltwater soap and it’s one of our biggest sellers. [See below]

Always a librarian, I embarked on the research first.

Pine tar is a very thick resin…kind of like molasses. And it seems that it makes the soap ‘trace’ very fast. That means that it gets thick quickly and is sometimes hard to get into the soap mold smoothly and without air pockets. Not something I’m a fan of.

First I read that you should mix first with some of the hot oils in the recipe. It helps to ‘melt’ the pine tar a bit and incorporate it smoothly with the oils. No need for an essential oil….pine tar has its own strong scent. This makes testing so easy….it’s the fragrance blending that takes so long when developing a new bar…

After looking at different recipes, I wanted to use our basic recipe (just 4 ingredients: olive, coconut, castor, and shea butter). I added 10% pine tar to our basic recipe and then recalculated the amount of lye it would take to saponify the whole batch.

Around the same time, I was teaching my Soap and Business Residency. Matthew, one of my students, was also interested in testing pine tar soap. So we divided a very small recipe (less than 1 pound) and tried it out. It came out great.

Later I made a bigger batch….just 2 pounds of soap. Still small enough to have good control over the possibility of a fast trace. I usually use an immersion blender to speed up the process, but it wasn’t necessary with the pine tar. Just stirring for a few minutes was enough to get a trace and pour it into the mold.

Next, I made a 15-pound batch. Testing a larger quantity means more heat is generated. And more heat means faster trace that can lead to soap so thick it’s hard to get it into a mold.

All is well….the pine tar is done….it had some good reviews from the staff.

The next buyers on our website get to try a bar.

Just put ‘pine tar’ in the note section and I’ll send you a bar…as long as the test bars last.

— Susan

Friday, May 26, 2023