It was a sad goodbye today as we left Pikeville, Tennessee. We spent the last four days working on the road at Sowing Seeds Nursery & Garden Center. We want to find meaningful work throughout our RV travels. Needless to say we left with so much more than we ever could have imagined.
The Smith family, Wendy, Glen, Alli, and Ethan, quickly became a second family to us on the road. They taught us things we never knew -- what an unharvested walnut looks like, how kefir can be made, that lemon verbena makes an excellent tea (thanks, Wendy!) and they also showed us what true Southern hospitality means.
What Wendy and her family are doing on their nursery/homestead is very similar to the practices Vanessa and I implement throughout our travels. Self sufficiency, minimalism, never-ending growth, and at the center of it all is love. They raise chickens, cows, horses, goats, pigs, ducks, turkeys, and even a donkey named Dusty. All their animals are fed a GMO-free diet, which is something Wendy is adamant about providing. This nutrition and dietary awareness extends to her family as well.
At every turn, Vanessa and I were fascinated with what Wendy and her family had built. Most recently, she started a straw hay bale garden. This type of garden means seedlings are transplanted into the bale, where they can grow at their leisure. Work smarter, not harder as Wendy would say.
Tomatoes, peppers, basil, lemon verbena, pineapple mint, sweet potatoes, oregano, Italian parsley, and lavender, are just a few of the plants grown in the garden. Not to mention the walnut tree out back, the abundance of aloe plants, and the soon-to-be-orchard we helped prepare. The family understands how fulfilling it is to be reliant only on themselves and their land.
These were the highlights during our trip:
Riding a horse for the first time
Gathering walnuts and clipping fresh herbs from Wendy's garden
Vanessa holding and calming a squealing piglet
Cooking vegan fare for the family
Tending to the nursery plants
Working outside and not being swayed by the rain or the dirt
Falling asleep to the sounds of crickets and howling mountain dogs in the distance
Spending time laughing and joking with the Smith family
We were even lucky enough to take a trip up to Fall Creek Falls, a local favorite amongst the people of Pikeville. It was there, at dusk, that we bathed under the waterfalls, our breath catching in our lungs from the temperature we soon adjusted to.
It was our first week of learning and working during our RV travels. Everything Vanessa and I wanted out of life was encompassed in our stay with the Smith family. The gratitude we felt after every day in the sun, hands calloused from digging, pulling, cutting, was enough in itself to remind us why we're doing what we're doing.
We hope each of our adventures can be as fulfilling as this one. Thank you Smith family! You set the bar very high.
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