How One Small Garden Can Change Your Life


You don’t have to own acres of farmland to enjoy the benefits of gardening. Growing your own food and enjoying some fresh flowers can be done even with just a few patio pots if need be, but even a small patch of dirt can change your life for the better. Gardening is the number one hobby in the country, and its popularity is growing as more people discover the joys of growing their own organic food.


Check out some of the biggest benefits of starting your own backyard garden patch: Continue reading

Everyone’s favorite WWOOFer is back!


IMG_20160523_122534854_HDRSince the last time I spent some much needed time at Light Footsteps (read about it here), I’ve finally realized that growing things, and teaching communities how to grow things, is actually really important to me. Because of that, I’ve recently started a journey to becoming an urban farmer. Over the past week, however, I’ve taken a break from stressing over the approaching school year to try out a different season at Light Footsteps. You’ll have to forgive me, because the August humidity has all my thoughts jumbled, so I’ll keep the words short and share some photos of this week with you.


Most of my mornings were spent spreading wood chips on the paths in the Keyhole Garden


I finally got to meet Pony. I would hate to make him insecure about his size, but in my mind he’s a horse.


I spent the cooler afternoons picking herbs (peppermint, thyme, oregano, sage, and lemon balm pictured here)


or beans!


luckily there were rainy days


…and there were a lot of sunny days to share with our pollinator friends.


The bees really love the Rose of Sharon.


On a particularly sunny day we went to Red Beet Row to see their permaculture farm.

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There was a lot of child-wrangling during the stay. Pictured is another WWOOFers son, Sebastian.


Cora has grown up so much since I last saw her! (Photo taken at Chardon’s farmers’ market)


I finished my week off helping Christine share her love of herbalism at a workshop for kids and adults about medicinal plants.

Like always, you can learn more about WWOOF here. Hope to be back soon, but until then, HAPPY GROWING!

4 Reasons I’m Teaching My Kids to Forage

{Today we have a guest post about foraging from blogger James Smith. James is a passionate blogger who loves to write on trending topics. If he is not doing anything, you will find him writing. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more updates}


I’ll never forget the first foraging outing I took my children on. They were about four and six years old at the time (I opted to leave my two year old with her grandmother for a few hours). Following our guide along the trail we learned all about the local river ecosystem, local history and culture, and got to put our eyes and hands on a wide variety of plants – sharpening our observation skills in the process. The best part, however, was getting a chance to smash open raw ripe pine nuts with rocks right there on the dirt trail – an unforgettable first experience and one my son loved!

Teaching kids to forage local native food has numerous physical as well as psychological benefits.

Children become more aware of their surroundings. Even without a field guide or clear goal, foraging hikes with an experienced guide can help kids with their listening and comprehension skills. It also introduces them to new vocabulary. As they sharpen their observation skills they quickly learn to discern between different types of plants. They also eventually learn to make well-reasoned and well-explained decisions about their choices.


Foraging Instills compassion and understanding of the local ecosystem

We spend so much of our time indoors that we’ve lost touch with the world around us. We’ve also lost touch with a piece of our humanity that requires connection to nature. By getting outside, and getting dirty, sweaty, and observing our surroundings, we deepen our connection to the planet and the other creatures that live here with us. We learn that birds and other critters love fruits, berries, roots, and nuts too! That common bond we share is one that will help our children have compassion for all the animals and plants in their local environment.

Wild foods are nutritious

Contrary to what you may believe, most foods found at the grocery store, or even the garden varieties we grow ourselves, have been bred for color, taste, and palatability – not nutrition. Wild foods however, are often more nutritious – and this is evident in their, at times, slightly bitter taste. Higher mineral content and micronutrients make wild foraged foods healthy for us and a nice supplement to an already well-balanced modern diet.

Foraging food also helps instill a deep appreciation for the effort it takes to make and prepare foods that haven’t already been conveniently packaged for us at the grocery store. Give kids a rock or two and help them crack open a walnut. Let them grind their own flour from grains and seeds. Teach them how to make their own dried fruit. Make them climb and reach to pick fruit from the trees, or dig in the dirt for roots and tubers.

Let them truly experience the amount of activity and effort that goes into shelling one nut or grinding up their own grain for bread-baking. Once they know how much effort goes into it, they’ll begin to learn empathy for others who work on a daily basis to bring them their food at the grocery store in nicely packaged containers.

Wholesome exercise

There’s no mistaking that foraging is hard work. Even at a leisurely guided tour pace, hiking outdoors, trekking up and down hills and across rivers and bridges, is certainly a nice workout – and one that deserves all the tasty wild fuel you’ll find. Carry a walking stick for stability and encourage your children to go at their own pace.


A few final thoughts. When foraging out in the wild and in unfamiliar areas, be sure to keep a lookout for poisonous and irritating plants and animals. Stay on the trails as much as possible to avoid disturbing native wildlife. Wear loose, weather-appropriate clothing in layers to protect against the sun and any stinging and biting insects. Wear comfortable shoes with a strong grip. Pack a small first aid kit to cover the basics in case of minor cuts and falls. Also, be sure to bring lots of water and healthy snacks to keep you hydrated and energized.

New to permaculture? Start here.


What’s it like to fairly take care of people and the earth? It’s a concept called permaculture, and it can provide a guiding spirit to the creation and tending of your landscape.


Continue reading

Make Your Own Chive Blossom Vinegar


Starting in late May and lasting through June, the garden is speckled with the vibrantly purple blossoms of chives.

Chives are a welcome addition to salads, vegetables, and eggs by adding their mild onion flavor.

Their blossoms are edible as well and can also be added to salads by pulling them apart into smaller bits.

Another simple way to use the flowers is to make a chive blossom vinegar.

Start by snipping the blossoms.  You’ll need a cup or two to fill a pint jar 3/4 full with the blossoms.

After collecting the blossoms, it’s a good idea to soak them for an hour or so in water.  This way any resident bugs can evacuate . We didn’t find any bugs in our freshly-opened blossoms, but if you do find them, consider changing the water another time to make sure they’re all out.

Towel dry the blossoms.

Lightly pack a sterilized pint jar with the blossoms and cover with vinegar.  I wanted the color of this vinegar to be lovely so I used white vinegar,  but generally I make my herb-infused vinegars with apple cider vinegar as if offers numerous health benefits on its own.

Place a piece of wax paper underneath the lid so that the vinegar doesn’t corrode the metal top.

For best flavor, infuse the chives into vinegar for 2-4 weeks before straining them out. After, keep the chive vinegar in a cool, dark location.

24 Hours Later


one week later


To recap, you’ll need:

  • 1-2 cups chive blossoms, soaked to remove any bugs and then towel dried
  • a sterilized pint jar
  • wax paper
  • enough white or apple cider vinegar to cover the blossoms

And then:

Add the chive blossoms to the pint jar and cover with the vinegar ensuring that all of the blossoms are completely submerged.  Place wax paper over the opening and screw on the lid. Wait 2 -4 weeks before straining out the chives. Store the vinegar in a cool, dark location.

This vinegar can be used wherever you might use vinegar, but I plan to use it mostly for salad dressings.

A simple Chive Blossom Vinaigrette could be made like this:

(for one cup)

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chive vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dried herbs and snips of fresh chives (optional)

Place all ingredients into an empty jar, make sure the lid is on, and shake away!




Spring updates from the farm


I apologize.  It’s been awhile.

Spring is always this crescendo of activity and energy that can feel overwhelming at times.  There’s so much momentum, growth, doing.

Add to that a family illness nearing its end, a stay in the hospital with little LF, typical spring farm growth, and you have a tiny piece of the puzzle explaining my absence.

However, we’ve still had so much going on around here.  We manage to squeeze projects into any spare moments we can find.

I’d love to share some glimmers of our life around the farm with you!

Continue reading

The Time of Imbolc is Here!


For most of us reading this, we are generations removed from a truly meaningful connection with the land. Gone are the days where stocking a larder meant the difference between life and death. We no longer spend long hours huddled around the hearth, connected to the flame for vital warmth throughout long winter days.

We are no longer wondering if there is enough food and fire to ensure the elders, infants, and breastfeeding mothers can make it through the final months of cold, dark, winter.

For these reasons (and more), we have lost touch with the spirit of this season. We no longer remember why this day (February 1st or 2nd depending on the year) is a time for pause, a time to celebrate, and a time to rejoice.

IMBOLC(1) Continue reading

Win a Winter Wellness Box! Celebrate Imbolc!

Photo by Joanna Powell Colbert


I’m so happy to share our updated main page for our farm and small business.  It’s a great launching place for people to find this blog, my shop, and learn about upcoming classes.  Please check it out and let me know what you think!

To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway where you can win one of the last Winter Wellness Boxes that remain.  (In general, there are very few left, so if you’d like to try one, learn more here.)

If you’d like to try to win one (why not?!), just follow this link to my Facebook page and leave a comment on the pinned post at the top.  I’ll be choosing a winner tomorrow (Wednesday, January 27).

Also, we’ll be having a gathering to celebrate the Earth-based holiday of Imbolc at our farm this Saturday.


Photo by Joanna Powell Colbert

Imbolc is the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox.  For our ancestors, this would have been a time of great celebration as the signs that spring would indeed return begin to show up now — baby lambs are born, snowdrops might poke their heads up from the snow, and the days are starting to get noticeably longer.

We’ll be discussing the history of Imbolc while doing some traditional crafts and eating seasonal snacks.  I’d like to use this time to gather feedback from the community to see how we can continue celebrating the Wheel of the Year in the future.

Let me know if you can come on this events page.  I hope to see you there!

You can also read what I wrote about Imbolc in a past blog post.


Reflections from a WWOOFer

sunny farm day

Madeleine Zimmermann / Allegheny  College Env. Science + Studio Art / Class of 2018

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,or the birds in the sky,
and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.” [Job 12:7-8]

“Madeleine, have you ever heard of WWOOFing? Makenzie and I want to go to the Southwest over winter break and WWOOF.”

It was early September and I was sitting around a table with some friends at our student-run coffee shop. I was plunging my tea leaves in and out of my hot water. I had never heard of WWOOFing and I didn’t have nearly enough money to travel to the southwest over break but later that night I went back to my house and pulled up the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms site for the United States.

Three months later and I was packing up a suitcase with a ten days’ worth of clothes. Within those three months I had overcome a stripping case of pneumonia, the death of two of my friends, and the long list of struggles that came with my dad losing his job after 20 years. I was in much need of spiritual rejuvenation.

Driving to Chardon, Ohio was more than a cosmic coincidence. My grandmother lived in a town over and for the first time since her passing in 2011, I drove by the exit to Chesterland. Continuing on to Light Footsteps Farm, I passed the same Marc’s in Chardon she loved to go to every weekend that we visited. It was at that moment that I realized that this was a homecoming for my soul.

After over a week of Michael and Christine sharing their home with me I’ve been given some time to reflect on my experience. In that time I have cleared paths and planted trees. I have butted heads with societal ideologies (metaphorically) and hungry goats (literally). I have witnessed the healing power of the earth in the jars on Christine’s shelves and sun that warms new life. In that time Michael and Christine have shared their honest opinions and advice on everything broad to specific: from general medicine to geriatric health care, childbirth, and vaccinations. They have shown me what it means to be a pioneering family wrestling to spread knowledge and heal the earth while still being genuine. Christine has taught me how to find empowerment in my womanhood, how to establish internal affirmation even when societal norms plant doubts and fears, and how to fearlessly be a caretaker. Michael has taught me how to question reality while still being confident in who I am and my place within the environmental community, and how to be an expert learner above all else.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once defined a weed as “a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” Spending time with a family who is building their lifestyle around permaculture, I’ve been able to find virtue in every living thing, and even do the same for the “weeds” in my life.


Mui Mui and Lucky brush noses


Scooby watches the snow fall from inside the warmth of the barn



the morning sun glowing from behind the treeline

Christine explains how herbal tastes can convey their actions.

Christine explains how herbal tastes can convey their actions.


the snow didn’t last long / Margaret (another WWOOFer) and Cora’s salutation to the sun


Vincent poses for the camera


Vincent and Lena wait to go on a walk


Margaret and Lena


the chickens scratch through the new straw


Scooby proves she is civilized enough to get food for herself


new product photos


radish sprouts in a tabletop aquaponics system


goodbye new friends, until next time


 Learn more about WWOOF.




Our Year on the Farm – 2015

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I had fully intended to upload these photos to the blog, but mistakenly uploaded them to the main Light Footsteps website. Instead of doing everything all over again, I hope you’ll hop on over to see this post in its entirety – I think you’ll truly be inspired by our 2015 on the farm!
Come join us next year!

Light Footsteps

I’ve been taking these last days before the New Year to slow way down, reflect, and dream of what I’d like to manifest in the coming year. After the fast-paced preparation for the holiday season, this time of quiet reflection is essential and has been bringing me a lot of joy.

It makes me wonder — how can I keep this appreciation for quiet reflection alive throughout all of next year?

Today I began going through some of our photos from the year and I have to say: none of the reflecting I’ve done comes close to the way I feel after going through our photos.

Wow –  we have accomplished A LOT.  It’s so hard to realize all that is going on when you’re in the midst of life.  Looking back, I feel such joy at what we manifested this year and the beauty of our life.  I couldn’t…

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