Cindy Conner, Permaculture Educator for Homeplace Earth
Recent Projects for MOTHER EARTH NEWS: Presenter at MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Seven Springs, Pa., 2010 and 2011
Occupation: Permaculture educator and the managing partner of Homeplace Earth, LLC
Place of Residence: Ashland, Va.
Background: I live with my husband near Ashland, Va. I wanted a healthy family, so I started growing food in 1974 when our first child was 1 year old. Our family grew to four children and I learned as much as I could about organic gardening and farming. We moved to Virginia in 1977 and to our 5-acre farm in 1984. To promote a healthy community, I began selling vegetables and eggs to local restaurants in 1992. I volunteered with the garden project at the elementary school the last four years our youngest child was there. During that time, all the cafeteria waste was composted. I learned that not very many people had been learning the same things I had over the years and that more adults needed to know that, so they could teach the children. That experience, combined with all the other questions I would get asked, since I was often the only organic grower people knew, led me to teaching.
In 1999 I helped start the Ashland Farmers Market, the same year I began teaching at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Goochland, Va. I left the markets after the 2001 season so that I could put more knowledgeable consumers and farmers there with my teaching. My classes at the college developed into the sustainable agriculture program that they have there now. I turned to studying sustainability and became certified as an Ecology Action GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming teacher. I’m certified at the intermediate level which puts emphasis on researching growing a complete diet. I received a Permaculture Design Certificate from Darrell Frey at Three Sisters Farm in 2006.
I founded Homeplace Earth to help people live more lightly in this world and have produced two videos, Cover Crops and Compost Crops IN Your Garden in 2008 and Develop a Sustainable Vegetable Garden Plan in 2010. Our son, Luke, is the filmmaker. The videos are great teaching tools for individuals or groups to use. I left the college in May of 2010 in order to address a larger community. I do that with my blog and with the increased opportunity to do presentations at places such as the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR, the Heritage Harvest Festival and elsewhere. My husband is the “tech support” partner of Homeplace Earth. Daughter Betsy Trice now teaches those sustainable agriculture classes that I pioneered at the JSRCC.
The more I learn, the more questions I have. Also, the more I realize the interconnectedness of everything in this world. I want to help people find their place in this dance of life and to help them recognize and appreciate the diversity around them while learning to feed themselves and their neighbors.
Personal History: I grew up in Parkman, Ohio, with a twin sister and two brothers. Dad had the gas station on the corner of our very small town in Amish country. Mom had dinner on the table for the family every night. I graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I wanted to help people be producers in the home.
Current Projects: I am exploring what it takes to grow all, or a substantial part, of one’s diet sustainably and how to get it to the table using the least fossil fuel, so I’ve been working with solar food dryers.
Other Fun Facts: I am a quilter, trying to use up all the fabric scraps saved from sewing clothes for my family over the years. I’m learning to spin cotton that I’ve grown. Although I have a blog, I don’t have a cell phone. I’ve been a member of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming since 1989 and I’m a regular presenter at the Heritage Harvest Festival.