Frequently Asked Questions

April 28, 2010


Recently we wrote an e-mail to the honor’s college at our alma mater, Valparaiso University, regarding our experience this year and trying to entice them to write an article in the alumni magazine about us.  What we got in response were a series of inquisitive questions from Kristin Nygaard, the so very nice and helpful administrative assistant.  Her questions are valid, so we decided to answer them here.

So what the heck are you doing exactly??

We are growing plants, raising 4 chickens, and actively trying to learn about where our food comes from.

“Sustainable farming” – you’re growing food just for yourselves? or other people?

Right now we’re growing enough food to feed 1.75 people (according to Caleb’s calculations).  We could have grown more but we ran into a lot of problems with fencing and keeping groundhogs away from our produce.  The remaining 2.25 people will receive their food from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and the produce that Caleb brings home from his job at a local farm.

Whose farm is this?

The farm once belonged to Kristin Thomas Sancken’s grandparents (hence, Thomas Farm).  It has been handed down to Kristin’s father and aunt.  The four of us are living here with their very kind approval and tutelage.

And this is only a one-year deal? There’s so much work involved in getting things going that first year that it would be a shame not to be there longer.

Yes.  As of right now, we’ve only agreed to a year.  Caleb is very interested in farming and may want to stay longer, but otherwise, what we’re all doing in 2011 is still up in the air.  We’re considering this year a year of intentional living (how do we focus on the ‘now’?) and discernment (what comes next?).

And what about the schooling you all were involved with? It seems like each one of you was in a graduate program. Is that all on hold? Or are you continuing to work on that while farming, too?

Funny you should ask.  Yes, we were all involved with graduate school.  Matt and Whitney were graduate students at Virginia Tech and Caleb and Kristin were graduate students at the University of Minnesota.    Matt and Whitney jumped off the PhD track and graduated with Master’s degrees.  Caleb and Kristin put their programs on hold for a year.  Graduate school was actually what prompted this year of intentional living.  We realized when we were in graduate school that we spent a lot of time thinking about theories and writing papers about what people SHOULD do regarding “living it right”, with very little energy or time to actually do those things ourselves.  We often joked in college about living on a communal farm together.  The romantic idea of living in a small community doing meaningful work with tangible results on a daily basis was irresistible.  Then, while at a New Year’s Eve party in 2008/2009 at Jason and Sara (Spencer) Langworthy’s house, we started discussing our frustrations with graduate school and what possible solutions could be.  It was there (in high spirits, both literally and figuratively) that the hair-brained scheme to ask Kristin’s family if our communal farm could become a reality was born.

Did you have savings to be able to do this? or are a few of you holding down real jobs?

All of us are having to hold down some sort of job.  Matt is working full time at a local software company called Scitent.  Caleb is working full time as an apprentice at a local organic farm called Roundabout Farm.  He brings home his learned expertise to share with us all.  Whitney is doing consulting work with several computer science firms, and Kristin is working part time for Academics Plus, a tutoring company that provides Supplemental Education Services to the local elementary school.  Lucy is the only one without a “real job”.  Although she takes eating solid foods very seriously.

Stay tuned.  We took our spring photos with Tina Taylor this weekend, and we should get them posted up here soon.


Ha! Thanks for the shout out. It’s not our fault! I SWEAR! 🙂

Glad to hear you are all doing well. It sounds like a real adventure! And Lucy’s getting so big! 🙂

Sara Langworthy — April 29, 2010

You guys are totally Spillikin-worthy 🙂

Alison Heitland Kern — April 29, 2010

Very cool. I hope they do a piece on y’all.

Ralph Asher — April 29, 2010

LOL You have a FAQ section! That’s awesome. It’s actually very informative though b/c I was wondering about all of them. 🙂 Loved the part about Lucy. Can’t wait to see you guys! So sad I don’t get to see her sooner!!!!

Courtney — April 29, 2010

Am I grouped with the 1.75 people, or the 2.25?

Matt Schaefer — May 4, 2010

Loved the pictures and the smiles all around, expecially Lucy’s. Such a precious reflection of the love surrounding her. God Bless.

Grandmother Rose — May 10, 2010

It was great to see what you all doing together, especially fun to see Lucy, it is an endeavor that in one year you are really just getting started. But I think it will be rewarding and a good learning experience just the same. Love to you all.

Bonnie — May 15, 2010