I drink from wells I did not dig.Ida Morgan Key
We peer into a giant pot hole on the road. It is murky with layered colors of decaying nature and shreds of environmental shambles like tainted oil and concrete chunks. All appear to be living in harmony.
D and I lean over and the boys crouch, their petit feet challenging the water’s edge. “See the tadpoles,” we prompt. “Yah,” they cry in chorus with nods of jubilation.
“The mother frog brought them here; the babies’ arms and legs are just beginning to grow out,” I say. “Look how many babies there are,” says D.
We are strolling the neighborhood. That morning, Roy and Robert’s baby sister Margaret entered the world by way of a small hospital just a piece down the road in Flowood, Mississippi.
Being outside in the green feels symphonic. The humid air teams with new life and a low summertime hum encourages discovery. Unawares we covet natural essentials more than ever.
In that pursuit, I recently found a place off a magical road that prompts me to center myself into the present, the time and space where creation resides.
Forest Gully Farm in Fly, Tennessee is that small exquisite spot. The owners Mandy and Jon Giffin have chosen to dig into nature and take their two little boys with them. The lifestyle incorporates many of the experiences that have been lost along the way to a prototype of progress.
On their website: https://forestgullyfarms.com, you’ll find that on most days, an invitation awaits to join a ten dollar foraging tour and tasting bar straight from the plants of wild edibles. Jon begins with the wood sorrel or oxalis, a clover like situation from the memory banks of most. The plant is the sour tasting green (delicious salad fare) that has always been tested by children running free in the great outdoors.
The Giffins favor diversity and density in their experimental organic fruit, nut and vegetable farm. Plantings are designed with a keyhole arrangement which fixes nitrogen into the soil. “The roots intermingle and benefit each other,” Jon says.
The Forest Gully Farm doctrine allows for primitive growth. And with patience and observation, nature tips which companions might grow best with the wild fruit bearers. Documentation of a just found naturally-occurring elderberry up beside a few of their curated blueberries shines forth.
And then there are the muscadine vines on the way to the red cedar chicken aviary which thoughtfully doubles the following season as a pre-fertilized vegetable garden.
Captivating. Because if feeling the sun sparkle, while harvest-tasting what creation supplies and listening to the sounds of silence isn’t enough, you can spend the night in what can only be described as a fairy tale fantasy, hobbit hole, star war outpost of the most dreamy proportions.
For added measure, check out the nearby waterfall which makes picnicking the best activity of the year. And don’t forget to take a young one; they will pave the way. You might be inspired to throw down all that you have ever learned and holler while running from thatched foliage to tree, waving a stick in the air. The Giffins will fill in the gaps.
Here is a springtime favorite recipe of Mandy Giffin’s, originality attributed to Laura Miller and Heather Wirtz. Even so Mandy says,”Nothing better than to take a break from farm work, enjoy nature’s recipes and graze next to the plants. Plus no dirty dishes either, just full bellies.”
3/4 cup honey
1 cup oil (preferred coconut)
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
3/4 dandelion petals
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Mix honey, oil, eggs, and vanilla
Stir in flour and oatmeal until dough forms
Fold in dandelion petals
Coat sheet pan with cooking spray or parchment paper and drop dough by the teaspoonful on to the sheet pan
Flatten each cookie slightly before baking
Bake 12 to 15 minutes
Let cool for a few minutes and then carefully remove from pan to cool more