A Venture into Publishing: Southern Soil

I love to read articles about homesteading, permaculture, farm-to-table restaurants and inspiring stories about people who are on a similar path as my own. What I found frustrating was that these people and most of the businesses and restaurants that I read about were located miles from where I live… and eat. What good is it to learn about a great CSA program in California, or that amazing chef who does fabulous things with organic meats up in Atlanta?

I want to know about places near me, right here in rural, southeastern Georgia.

I was certain they existed. So, I began to search. Much to my dismay, there was no one place where I could find these like-minded people. But those places, those people – the ones who want to make better choices about where our food comes from – they’re here. Right here. In Southeast Georgia.

For some, it’s simply a way of life that has been passed down through the generations. It’s not about sustainability or organic or anything fancy. It’s just about having a garden out back, canning in the summertime, fishing on the weekends, bagging a deer or two in season, and putting good food on the table.

For others, it’s a conscious choice to move away from chemicals, to go back to the basics and reconnect with the soil itself. Allowing nature to have a full partnership in the process, instead of being battled or subdued by modern technology.

Southern Soil LogoIt was from this need to fill a void I find frustrating as a consumer, not being able to easily find like-minded businesses and producers;  and from my passion for sustainably produced food that the magazine, Southern Soil, a growing food movement, has been born.

My hope is that Southern Soil will help bring us all together and give us a platform from which to have conversations about sustainability, ethical meat production, responsibly grown produce. A place where we can celebrate successes together, learn from each other, encourage each other; and where we can know that this amazing movement away from conventional and factory farming is not something that’s just happening, “over there”, it’s happening right here. And no matter what our individual role in that movement may be, we can all do our part better when we connect as a community.

Sadly, as I am conducting my search of organic and sustainable businesses to include in the magazine’s index, many of the businesses I have found online are no longer operating. The reality is, for sustainability to work, consumers, producers and retailers must be able to find each other, locally.

So, it is to that end that I have launched this new adventure called, Southern Soil, and I hope you will join me for the ride! Stay tuned to find out more information about content and features as things begin to come together. I hope to have the first issue of Southern Soil available the first week of February 2018.


The Gift of Listening

Interviewing someone for a story is a very unique experience. I did this for the first time only about two years ago as part of my application for a job at a local newspaper. I got the job! And I learned that I love the interview process.

This came as a bit of a surprise to me because I am an introvert who has never found it easy (or terribly enjoyable) to have conversations with people that I do not know. But I found that my introverted nature actually lends itself quite nicely to the art of the interview.

Because an interview isn’t just about asking the right questions (sometimes questions are completely unnecessary), it’s about listening for answers you didn’t even know you needed. It’s about keeping quiet while coaxing the story from the teller. It’s about allowing yourself to get caught up in another’s experience. It’s about listening with empathy. It’s about understanding the character of the subjects, listening between the lines, making a connection of trust and conveying that you “get it” – that you can put yourself in their shoes and that they can trust you to convey their message accurately and with integrity.

As someone who has been a quiet observer for my entire life and one who does not enjoy being the center of attention, the role of interviewer, writer, story sharer was a natural fit.

There’s always something that is very humbling to me when I interview someone for a story. It’s such a privilege to be invited or allowed into someone’s life in that way. It’s an honor and a responsibility that I take seriously.

Recently, I interviewed a veteran who suffers from service related MS. He thanked me several times for talking to him and told me it meant so much for him just to have someone listen. Period. And that I was also sharing his story with others meant even more.

There is a lesson here for all of us. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is just to take the time to truly listen to them. Isn’t that what we all want? To be heard, to be understood, to be valued enough for someone to make the effort to do both.


There’s always a story

There’s always a story. I learned this while writing for a small town newspaper. Everyone has at least one interesting story to tell, sometimes he or she just needs a little help.

Of course, there is always the exception that proves the rule. I’ll never forget the interview that went no where and the emphatic recurring response at the end of each brief answer I received, “and that’s all I have to say about that!”.

I’m passionate about helping others share their story. Whether it’s conducting a one on one interview to capture a personality, relive history or share a perspective; or working with a company to share the relevance of a product, stand out from the crowd, or connect with their patrons – there’s always a story to be found.

Are you having a hard time finding the right words to tell your story? If you’re coming up short and “that’s all you have to say about that!”, leave the writing and the stressing to me – there’s always a story.