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Farm Life

Eat Better, Live Better: On Self-Sustainability and Growing Your Own Food

Late this spring my friend Jenny and I embarked on a quest of visiting local farms and blogging about them and the cool things their owners do, and I am ashamed to admit that I am just now getting to blog about our lovely visit with Charissa Coyle and her daughter Aster (husband Joe was at work, so we didn’t get to visit with him). I have met Charissa at the Washington Art Walk meetings – an art teacher, the owner of Washington Community Arts Studio on 5th Street and a talented artist herself, Charissa has been part of the Art Walk showcasing the work of her students and her original paintings. I have also been enjoying getting real, whole, delicious cow’s milk from her for the past couple of months, and I was looking forward to meeting the cows and seeing her home.

Charissa's house is located not far from Washington, but in world of its own. As soon as we turned on this picturesque road, I knew it would be a lovely visit.

Charissa’s house is located not far from Washington, but in world of its own. As soon as we turned on this picturesque road, I knew it would be a lovely visit.

Charissa her husband Joe and their daughter Aster have been living in this beautiful home for nine years.

Charissa, her husband Joe, and their daughter Aster have been living in this beautiful home for nine years. Her parents gave them the property and the land, which was the start of their farmstead.

We were greeted with fresh baked bread...

We were greeted with fresh baked cake made by Aster…

...delicious coffee...

…delicious coffee…

...and cookies...

…and very yummy cookies…

Fresh flowers and strawberries, too!

Fresh flowers and strawberries, too!

The veggies were ready to be cooked for lunch, all fresh picked from the garden.

The veggies were ready to be cooked for lunch, all fresh picked from the garden.

Everything reminded me of home in Bulgaria, when I used to visit my grandparents in summer and enjoy fresh fruit and veggies from the garden along with my grandma's delicious baked goodies.

Everything reminded me of home in Bulgaria, when I used to visit my grandparents in summer and enjoy fresh fruit and veggies from the garden along with my grandma’s delicious baked goodies.

Joe and Charissa's home had a wonderful peaceful atmosphere, as if the time has stopped and all that mattered was this very moment.

Joe and Charissa’s home had a wonderful peaceful atmosphere, as if the time has stopped and all that mattered was this very moment.

Prior to setting in this house, the couple were very much into sustainable living, and chose to live with no electricity for five years. They just wanted to see what they could do without and what was really important in life. Since they moved to this home, they have been trying to be as efficient and self-sufficient as possible.

Prior to settling down in this house, the couple were always interested in sustainable living, and chose to live with no electricity for five years. They just wanted to see what they could do without and what was really important in life. Now their goal is to be as efficient and self-sufficient as possible.

While Charissa was making lunch and my friend Jenny was visiting with her, I asked Aster to take me on a tour around the property.

While Charissa was making lunch and my friend Jenny was visiting with her, I asked Aster to take me on a tour around the property.

We had a lovely companion :-)

We had a lovely companion 🙂

I was impressed with family's garden and all the veggies ready to be harvested!

I was impressed with the family’s garden and all the veggies ready to be harvested!

If you have never had home grown veggies, get some and try them. They taste so much better than store-bought.

If you have never had home grown veggies, get some and try them. They taste so much better than store-bought.

Fresh-picked strawberries are the best!

Fresh-picked strawberries are the best!

The family also keeps bees. Whatever they produce extra of, they sell at the New haven Farmers' Market or at the farm.

The family also keeps bees. Whatever they produce extra of, they sell at the New Haven Farmers’ Market or at the farm.

Naturally, everything in their home is powered by solar energy :-)

Naturally, everything in their home is powered by solar energy 🙂

Aster shouldn't have taken me to the barn with baby kittens...

Aster shouldn’t have taken me to the barn with baby kittens…

Such a cute face!

Such a cute face!

Play!

Play!

Isn't this the most adorable thing?

Isn’t this the most adorable thing?

After a while I had to make myself leave and visit with the cows...

After a while I had to make myself leave and visit with the cows…

We looked for the cows in the nearby pasture...

We looked for the cows in the nearby pasture…

But it was lunch time and Charissa came to call us.

But it was lunch time and Charissa came to call us.

I am not going to lie, this was some of the best food I've had! everything tasted so delicious, because it was home-grown and home-made. The company also made for a wonderful lunch. We took our time, enjoyed the food, and continued our interesting conversation.

I am not going to lie, this was some of the best food I’ve had! everything tasted so delicious, because it was home-grown and home-made. The company also made for a wonderful lunch. We took our time, enjoyed the food, and continued our interesting conversation.

After lunch, we headed to find the cows.

After lunch, we headed to find the cows.

Charissa's milk is the best, and I am lucky to be enjoying it on a regular basis. I've grown up on whole real cow's milk and I have really missed it in the USA. Luckily, I can be enjoying it again now.

Charissa’s milk is the best, and I am lucky to be enjoying it on a regular basis. I’ve grown up on whole real cow’s milk and I have really missed it in the USA. Luckily, I can be enjoying it again now.

We found them!

We found them!

The way animals are being raised and treated pays a huge role in the taste, quality and nutritional properties of their milk, eggs, or meat. I could tell these cows are loved and respected.

The way animals are being raised and treated pays a huge role in the taste, quality and nutritional properties of their milk, eggs, or meat. I could tell these cows were loved and respected.

Grazing and napping in the shade, they came to greet Charissa and got confused it's snack time :-)

Grazing and napping in the shade, they came to greet Charissa and got confused it’s snack time 🙂

Cows play as well!

Cows like to play as well!

Charissa, Joe and Aster have chosen to live in a self-sustainable way and be responsible with what they use. They grow their own vegetables and fruit, and raise animals for meat and dairy. What they cannot grow or produce, they try to buy local.

Charissa, Joe and Aster have chosen to live in a self-sustainable way and be responsible with what they use. They grow their own vegetables and fruit, and raise animals for meat and dairy. What they cannot grow or produce, they try to buy local.

Having a farm is not as easy as it looks, but growing and raising your own food definitely pays off in the long run. The family is open to WOOFing and they have had lots of volunteers for the past year and a half that have visited the farm and helped them with the work in exchange for food and board.

Having a farm is not as easy as it looks, but growing and raising your own food definitely pays off in the long run. The family is open to WWOOF-ing and they have had lots of volunteers for the past year and a half that have visited the farm and helped them with the work in exchange for food and board. Charissa keeps track of them (17 by now) with hand-written notes in this lovely note book.

My friend Jenny and I had such  lovely time visiting, that we didn't realize how time flew by. On our way out, we were invited to go up to the tree house Joe built for Aster.

My friend Jenny and I had such lovely time visiting, that we didn’t realize how time flew by. On our way out, we were invited to go up to the amazing tree house Joe built for Aster.

I fought it was an exciting idea at first, but then I don't have it in me that day...

I thought it was an exciting idea at first, but looking at them climbing up the rope ladder, I suddenly felt I didn’t have it in me that day…

Call me a chicken, but I took their photo from the ground looking up ;-)

Call me a chicken, but I took their photo from the ground looking up 😉

Joe and Charissa believe in growing and raising your own food, and they think good food should be affordable and accessible. They would like to see more and more sustainable agriculture in the community and they are happy to host local people and teach them how to do that in exchange for help with work. You can find them on World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) or e-mail them at coyle@fidnet.com. They are also at the New Haven Farmers’ Market 4-6:30pm on Thursdays. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Slava

I am a twenty-something Bulgarian girl in the USA, re-discovering the world through the lens.

Discussion

One Response to “Eat Better, Live Better: On Self-Sustainability and Growing Your Own Food”

  1. The Coyle’s are so inspiring, the ease at which they go about their days, their passion for food. They are a great model for our community. Wonderful post Slava!

    Posted by Jenny Conner | September 10, 2014, 11:25 am

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