In the next Finding Roanoke conversation, the Local Environmental Agriculture Project will host a conversation on local food and vibrant communities. Susanna Thornton of Thornfield Farm will be one of the local farmers participating, and she talked with us as a quick preview of the evening.
BOOK CITY ★ Roanoke: On the website for Thornfield Farm, you share quote from a T.S. Eliot: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” That sounds like a pretty good description for this Finding Roanoke effort. We’re virtually exploring other communities through Dar Williams’ book, and then bringing it home to better see our place. How you see your work at Thornfield Farm as reintroducing us to what surrounds us?
Susannah Thornton: Farming for me is all about reconnecting with my roots—I was born and raised on this land, and farming is a constant process of rediscovery and learning. Growing healthy, sustainable food is a tangible way to reintroduce our community to the fruits of the land they live on—food is a direct connection to the land that surrounds us.
BCR: People can directly connect to the farm through your farm share program. How many members of the farm share do you have now?
BCR: What surprises them most about your operation?
ST: How small we are and that we do all of our own work.
BCR: Yet you selling a lot of produce, and at several local markets. You are busy. If you have time to read…what are you reading now?
ST: I don’t have much time, but this month I just picked up a book again for the first time since March. I’m reading The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David G. Haskell. It is excellent!
BCR: What happening today gives you the most optimism about where we’re headed as a community and region?
ST: The demand for our product. I never in a million years imagined that Roanoke would be able to not only sustain an organic market farm business, but that the demand would far exceed my ability to meet it. We’d like to grow more, but there is a limit to how much this land and this body can produce.
BCR: Finding the right scale is an important aspect of life, including business and economic strategies as well as in building a community. It keeps emerging in the discussion of Dar’s book. She’ll be here to talk with us on December 11, and she’ll sing some songs. Do you have a favorite Dar Williams song?
ST: The Christians and the Pagans.
BCR: That’s one of mine too. Maybe we can get her to sing it; it’ll be in season! Thanks, Susanna. See you Monday.
Susannah Thornton will discuss the role local foods in the building of positive proximity in the November 13 Finding Roanoke conversation. More information is at www.bookcityroanoke.com/finding-roanoke. ★