Put her down at any point in history and Kate Lind would not only survive, but thrive (though in the Middle Ages they’d probably have burned her as a witch). I’ve been working for her and her husband James on their farm, Sustainable Greens, for nearly three years now, and I haven’t yet ceased to marvel at the way they manage to live — so richly on so little.
Though they farm their land more commercially now, selling produce to several restaurants in Goshen, Indiana, and at the Goshen Farmer’s Market, when they first moved to their plot south of Three Rivers, Michigan in 1976 they were simply hoping to homestead. “We got to try out lots of fun animals — Jacob sheep, goats — and we’d run next door when they were shooting the runts from the pig litters, and save as many as we could,” says Kate. We’ve both had busy weeks, and I am interviewing her while we work.
Their main cash crop now is salad mix, which means long hours twice a week spent washing the greens in three big stock tanks, and picking out all the bad leaves, weeds, and bits of tree leaf or grass root which get in with the salad when we cut it in the fields, not to mention the odd caterpillar, ant, or fly. So it’s a salad day, and it’s taking us longer than we thought, because it’s October and the lettuce isn’t growing fast enough, which means going through old rows of lettuce and cutting the usable stuff. It’s not as high-quality as the new rows, though, so it takes longer to wash and clean. But this is a perfect example of Kate’s ability to make a living out of what others might call nothing — her refusal to relinquish any bit of row where there might be some good yet. In anyone else, we might call it stinginess, but in Kate it’s almost the exact opposite — an expansive view of the world which refuses to consign any part of it to the scrap heap.