"Teach the children… Show them daisies and the pale hepatica.… Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit... Rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.
Attention is the beginning of devotion.” --Mary Oliver, from Upstream
Hi, I'm Danielle! I'm the primary driver of this business in its current form: I'm farm manager/the main farm worker/florist/designer/maker of plant medicines/etc... I was born in Lansing, but NEVER thought (until very recently!) that I would be farming in my hometown! In fact, growing up I didn’t think much about where the food I ate came from. It was just there. Farmers in straw hats & overalls grew it somewhere else. My grandpa grew tomatoes, muskmelon, & hollyhocks; but I don't remember ever being involved in the process of planting or harvesting them.
So, my personal path to farming was a winding one, but it began with wanting to live more lightly on the Earth & be more self-sufficient. I have always loved being outside & learning about the natural world. I became more interested in food & healing more specifically while working at a small health food & supplement store in Tucson, Arizona. For years, I steeped myself in information about homesteading, foraging, herbal medicine-making, & farming. I learned as much as I could about the food system & tried to align my habits with my values. My husband Nathan & I found began talking more & more about starting a farming operation of our own. From the beginning, our ideas included a vineyard & winery. To learn more operating a vineyard, we got involved with the nascent wine industry in Southern Arizona, & volunteered on vineyards there.
Nate decided to return to school to learn more. While I focused on caring for our infant son, Nate completed an MS in Agriculture at Washington State University, along with certificates in sustainable agriculture, viticulture, & enology. After he completed his studies there & worked for a time at a farm & winery in Northern Michigan, we both decided to return to school & were accepted to Michigan State University to study Community Sustainability at the graduate level. The following spring, in 2017, we started growing—with a 20’ by 20’ community garden plot, another plot in my mom’s backyard, & a raised bed at home. It wasn’t much, but I was overjoyed to finally be taking the first tiny steps towards our farming dream.
In 2017 I also did a volunteer internship at Urbandale Farm in Lansing, & began selling floral arrangements made with flowers purchased from local growers. I have a background in art & design, & recently discovered that flowers are my new favorite medium. I love this work!
In 2018 I completed MSU's Organic Farmer Training Program, which helped me acquire the hands-on skills & practical business & agricultural knowledge that is needed to be a successful farmer. The tips & ideas offered up & inspired by the farmers at the many farms across the state were invaluable. As I learned more in the program & continued my graduate studies in sustainable agriculture, I continued to think about how I wanted to design our future farm, & this evolved.
Our family: Me, Danielle Brugnone, my husband Nathan, & our son, Asa.
Nature is a powerful source of healing in my life, & more research is emerging that supports the health benefits of spending time outdoors in natural environments. We want to create space for people to have this experience. Right now we are growing on a small plot of leased land that we do not live on, but we hope to one day have a sustainable farmstead designed with the wild in mind.
When we acquire more land & infrastructure, we hope to offer writing & art retreats as well as workshops & events. In this fast-paced world & increasingly complex world, we want our farm to be a place of healing & regeneration: for ourselves, for others, & for the land. We hope that it will be a place where people can expand their vision of what a farm is and is for.
The Feral Field is grounded in the values of:
❖ Sustainability—in every facet
❖ (Re)Connection—to the Earth, to the wild world
❖ Community, including animals & plants
❖ Sovereignty—in food & seed
❖ Respect—for difference, for wildness
❖ Hope—for a brighter, healthier, more peaceful future
❖ Beauty & Joy!
We know it is possible to grow delicious food & beautiful flowers while respecting & providing critical habitat for pollinators & the many other incredible creatures we share this planet with.
THE FERAL FIELD
LANSING, MI 48912