I am Sam; Sam I am.
Farmer. Beekeeper. Blogger.
Pollinator Conservationist. Local Food Advocate.
Working to increase my own self-sufficiency in hopes of living more lightly upon the Earth.
Mine is a story much like that of many other farmers today, for we are all of us faced with the same challenges: land access, lack of capital, and a steep learning curve─just to name a few of the hurdles. I however, had to go and check the box for just about every disadvantage a farmer might have to overcome in order to succeed. I’m a first-generation beginning farmer, with a focus on honeybees at a time when bees are dying at a rate of 37% per year─oh, and by the way, I happen to be female. I also choose to call economically deprived Somerset County, Maine, my home.
Most farmers are acting on some kind of intrinsically motivating principle, for farming and growing food in itself has become one of the most radical of acts of protest against the corporate powers that we know today. Working in harmony with nature, in direct support of ourselves, in support of those we care about, and in support of our communities, we are doing the most essential thing necessary to change the world: we’re changing ourselves.
That’s what my story is about. It’s about one woman’s love for nature and how it led her to a life of farming and conservation. Every choice I have made in my life has been motivated by a desire to live alongside nature, to have this deep and inspiring connection to the Earth. I want to be tied to the ebbing and flowing rhythms of life in an intimate way. This love for nature and the Earth is so deep and so strong that I am compelled to take action to protect that which I care about.
Once I had children I became more determined to make changes in my life that aligned with that desire. I wanted my boys to grow up to love and protect the Earth the way that I do, in hopes that a future generation might find a way for humanity to exist without destroying the planet we live and depend upon. I became a proponent for recycling, composting, reducing waste, increased self-sufficiency, animal rights and wildlife conservation. I learned to cook my own food, bake my own breads, and how to grow my own food. Over the years my affinity for nature has led me to a life in agriculture. Eventually I realized I could earn my income using the skills I’d developed, and I found my calling as a farmer and a beekeeper.
Why should you listen to me?
For nearly 20 years, I have been studying and practicing methods of living that are geared toward living more lightly upon the Earth. It started with recycling, organic gardening, and composting, but gradually led to livestock husbandry, beekeeping, and market-farming.
In 2011, I took the Master Gardener course offered by UMaine’s Somerset County Cooperative Extension, and I have been active within the surrounding communities ever since.
In May 2012 the Xerces Society held their Pollinator Conservation Short-Course at MOFGA in Unity and I attended, learning more about how to preserve and create habitat for native pollinators. In 2012 the Somerset Beekeepers participated in both the Skowhegan State Fair, and the New Portland LIONS Fair for the very first time─and I was there with display and with bees to tell the public all about Maine’s native pollinators.
For 5 years I led the Somerset Beekeepers─a local chapter of the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association. I served as the group’s president, working throughout the communities of Somerset County to teach people about the importance of pollinators, and to teach new beekeepers about the art and joy of beekeeping. Though I recently stepped down from both of those positions in order to better meet the demands of my own farm, I still serve as a beekeeping mentor in the area, and promote pollinator conservation through other channels.
I established the Madison Farmers’ Market in 2012, and have served as Market Manager for the last 5 years. I stand on the front lines of the food revolution as a farmer and as an advocate for increased access to fresh, locally produced food for the same community that I grew up in─the same communities that both my mother and my father grew up in.
Following a divorce that left both my farm and I landless, I’ve found solidarity working for other farms while I regained my footing. Eventually I found myself in the Call Center at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, in a part-time position that affords me ultimate flexibility for my schedule. Working there I have been able to continue growing my apiary and farm-operation, and now─after nearly 10 years─I have finally managed to buy a farm for Runamuk to be able to put down roots. Finally I can bring to life the vision that I have for a pollinator conservation farm and I am chomping at the bit to make it happen!
My Written Works
I have been writing since high school, for a short time as a correspondent to the Kingfield Irregular, a small local paper here in Maine. More recently I’ve worked as a freelance writer, publishing online and with local publications such as the Somerset Cooperative Extension’s monthly newsletter, and also the Beeline─a bi-monthly publication produced by the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association. Click here to read some of my work, which includes not only topics about sustainable living, but also materials for homeschooling, especially geared toward secular homeschoolers, scientific pursuits and nature studies.
Connect with Runamuk
Mine has not been an easy journey. It is a raw tale with real-life twists and turns to the plot, but somehow whenever I fall, I always manage to pick myself up once again. Somehow I continue working toward my goal to generate the entirety of my income, to support myself and my family, through the labors of farming. Through the keeping of bees no less, an industry which is struggling under the pressures of the modern industrialized corporate system that chokes our planet and sucks at our souls like something akin to a Dementor.
Subscribe to the Runamuk feed by email (see the widget in the sidebar!) to follow along with my story. Keep in touch with Runamuk by connecting with me via one of the social networks that I am active on, or feel free to stop by the Madison Farmers’ Market to say hi!