From the Founder
I am Michaela Ryan, farmer and founder of New Village Farm. The farm was founded with the idea of creating a space where children can experience farming and nature, learn to love Vermont’s pastoral landscape, and know themselves to be capable, competent and nurturing. Our school programs and camps involve lots of healthy real work that is also lots of fun. Our summer camp is intended to incorporate the elements I cherished of growing up on a farm. These include work, animals, play, and a less structured day where one thing leads to the next and before you know it you’re off chasing a butterfly across a hayfield.
I feel strongly that beyond the food we grow, we grow healthy strong kids, and a healthy community. To me selling you a boxed share of food is only sending you home with the icing on the cake, the richness of the farm is in the experiences it provides. I invite anyone and everyone to join one of our programs, know what it means to grow your own, meet your meat so to speak… You’d be amazed by what it takes me to nurture animals, love them and watch and help them be slaughtered so that you can be nourished. It is a profound and rich life, it is full of challenges and beauty. I invite you to participate in it.
I am married to an incredibly supportive man and am the mother of three kids. We live in Shelburne, Vermont, a great and generous community. The farm is located on 112+ acres. Farming sort of feels like what I was born to do. I enjoy it a good deal and farming with children even more.
I was raised on a sheep farm in Southern Quebec, not too far north of the Vermont border by North Troy. Being outdoors on a farm was the best part of my youth. School was a rather awkward and painful environment that I didn’t enjoy a whole lot. I nonetheless worked my way though college mostly farming, and graduated an environmental engineer. I don’t know what I could have been thinking, but there you have it. My first and only Environmental Engineering job was in an industrial setting, in Montreal. I quickly took time off to have kids. The years blurred and it became obvious to me that I needed to choose a different career when I reentered the work force.
During my years as a full time mother, I went from being ignorant of, to fascinated with my own relationship to grief. After completing a program to complete my own relationship to loss, I studied to become a Grief Recovery Specialist. That was and is amazing and rewarding work for me, but it also allowed my own passion for farming to resurface. In growing up on a farm I was so uncomfortable with my own grief about eating the animals my family raised that I held at bay my interest in farming for years. I went close to twenty years without getting close to any animals at all. I didn’t own any kind of pet. In fact, I made my husband give away his cats before I would marry him. I was also a vegetarian for much of that time. I have always grown food for myself, but my real passion is biodynamic livestock management.
So now here I am back on the farm, not only passionate about animals, but also about children and families. My feeling is that the farm, fields and woods are the healthiest environments to grow up in. I believe that kids need to move their bodies more, and also do more meaningful work, work that is not focused on them. We spend so much time making efforts to input knowledge and technological skills into our children. I believe that in this day and age children are developing an intense craving to serve their families, their communities and their environment. I am committed to New Village Farm providing an opportunity for kids to experience and contribute to life on the farm. When classes or individuals spend time here, I do not create busywork for them, I include them in all the activities of caring for these animals which nourish us. It creates a rich and rewarding (and sometimes messy and smelly) experience for all of us.
As I look to the future of New Village Farm, I want to create meaningful experiences for families as a whole here. We are just beginning to create family programs where parents and children can raise chickens or garden together. Some day I want to also create an on farm venue for the work of Grief Recovery. The farm has so much to teach about resilience and impermanence.
Thanks for taking the time to read these ramblings. Consider coming out and getting involved.
Blessings on you and yours,