Spotlight: Skylight Farm

Early one Monday morning, I awoke stacked on the layers, poured a hot cup of joe and hopped in the car.  Although it was rather cold out, the sun offered a warm and welcoming light. The early morning light was absolutely magnificent, which is why it is my favorite time to photograph. By the time I arrived at Skylight Farm, Justin was already out and about ready to start the day ahead of him. I had met Justin and his girlfriend Brittany a few months back at the Green Market in Piedmont Park. I worked at couple booths down for my Chiropractor and couldn’t help noticing their beautiful array of fresh, organic vegetables each week. Now while it may seem a rather small detail, I am very much a visual person. So when I saw the layout of their booth and how aesthetically pleasing it was, I could tell they truly cared about every detail that goes into their work.  I had such a blast finally making it out to the farm to see where the process all starts! My time at Skylight was fun, filled with information, and awe at what Mother Nature does best when we aren’t getting in her way. Here’s a little bit more about Skylight and the man of the hour: Justin Aiello.

[This story is best read with a hot cup of coffee and your coziest sweater or blanket!]

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Tell us a little bit about yourself?

-I am 27. I graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2009 with a degree in Geography. After college I did various landscape related jobs until I began farming.

What exactly brought you to farming?

-I really wanted to build community, work with my hands and grow. Farming was the perfect fit. I was still working a landscape job when I saw a documentary called Grow, which is about young Georgia farmers. I was inspired, quit my job and began farming not too long after.

How did you find the Glover Family Farm?

-I discovered the Glover’s through a friend (my now girlfriend) who was interning at Georgia Organics at the time. She let me know about an apprenticeship opportunity there and eventually I was offered my own plot of land to steward and start my farm business off of.

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What spoke to you and inspired you to want to be a part their farm?

-I loved the legacy the Glover’s had already left and still wanted to leave. Not only did they play an integral role in moving forward organic and sustainable growing during their farming career, but they now want to open up their land to let younger new farmers begin their careers as well. To be able to farm on such amazing land with amazing mentors is truly a special thing.

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What made you decide to start your own farm versus working for someone else first?

-After doing a 4 month apprenticeship I was pretty eager just to go out on my own and give it a try. There was a rare opportunity for me to get started and a small window to do it – so I figured it was worth the risk and jumped right in.

Are their any activities on the farm that are therapeutic for you?

-There are quite a few activities that I love doing and have some great instant gratification results, but nothing quite beats some quality time on the tractor mowing the grass.

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What has been the biggest thing you have had to overcome in order to pursue this dream of yours?

-The fear of failure. I still deal with it at times, honestly. Starting the farm business was a huge risk. Working with living organisms in an ever changing environment can often times be unpredictable. A lot of things I have done on the farm this year have been the firsts for me which is both very exciting with a nice mix of slightly nerve-wracking.

Tell me a little bit about your farm to table dinners and the vision you see for it in the future.

-So far this year we have had two farm to table dinners that coincide with farm work days which have both been lovely experiences. We’ve had 12 to 20 people show up to work for the day by helping me accomplish a huge list of tasks such as planting, weeding, prepping new fields and shutting down fields that are done for the season. At the end of the day we get to enjoy some fellowship and farm fresh veggies cooked by a very talented chef friend of mine. In the future I hope to do three or four farm work/dinner days as well as have some other local chefs come out to the farm to do dinners that benefit local food based organizations such as Slow Food or Wholesome Wave Georgia.

What about farming helps you get out of bed every day and work such long hours of manual labor?

-Farming for me is more of a lifestyle than a job. It’s a commitment to stewarding the land, living sustainably and building community. It feels like a good and meaningful way to live that is incredible satisfying at the end of the day. I definitely have to work long hours, but getting up every day is easy when what I get to do is so satisfying and full of meaning.

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At which point over the last year, did you realize you had something good going?

-I think my first farmers market of the year was the first time I realized that things were on the right track. The market was in April, but I had started growing my first veggies in February. There was a lot of build up and nervousness involved, but it all worked out and I had plenty of veggies for market and I was really well received with a lot of kindness amongst the other farmers and market-goers.

What is something you have learned about yourself since you started farming?

-I’ve learned quite a bit about myself through farming…a big one recently has been that I love working alone on the farm, but I definitely need people.

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In your off time (if you ever get any!) what can you be found doing?

-I can be found napping, eating tasty food or adventuring around Atlanta with my lovely girlfriend. I’ve been known to do a little rock climbing here and there as well.

You had mentioned to me that you did a lot of climbing in the past. Where was your favorite place that you traveled to?

Bishop, California. Hands down one of the more unique and beautiful places I have been in the US.

Are there any common misconceptions about organic farming that you would like to debunk?

Yep! Just because something is labeled organic does not mean it is automatically good. There are many growing and labor practices that need to be taken into account as well. One of the benefits of buying from your local farmer is that you can usually meet most of the employees and ask any questions about growing and labor practices.

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How would you describe yours and Brittany’s role in making Skylight Farms what it is today?

-It’s pretty simple for us..we just try to be honest, genuine and and show lots of kindness to the people we get to interact with. We really want people to feel connected to where their food comes from.

Is there any significance in the name Skylight Farm?

Skylight is my favorite mountain from when I lived in the Adirondacks in New York.

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*If you want to keep up with whats new on the farm, and all their exciting events be sure to head over to Skylight Farm on Facebook and LIKE their page!

 

 

 

 

We’re all guilty of it

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson

I absolutely adore this quote because lets face it, it is so true!

We were all created with different skills and little quirks to make us unique individuals.

What talents do you have that few, if any see?

I’d like to challenge you to start implementing your talents everyday in some form or fashion. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, but something small everyday. If you keep taking a small step everyday before you know it you will have made huge progress!

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This is me taking one step at a time. I am not where I want to be yet, but I can not let that stop me from moving forward so that I can one day (soon:]) be there.

Find those people out there (if you don’t already have them) that will hold you accountable to your goals. It is up to you to decide each day if you want to move forward or backwards, but it sure is nice having those people there to cheer you on along the way!

[There is so much green in that picture!]

Midterm Frenzy

While it seems like just yesterday that it was midterms (probably because it basically was) that time has come again. I only have 3 midterms this week, while this may be the most I have had in one week as an undergraduate student it will certainly be nothing compared to when I am in graduate school. I can look forward to having approximately 8 exams at any given time in the coming months. 

Joy.

Well at least for now I can take advantage of this time to breath a little!

Little trick for anyone in need of some focus—>Image

Try it you will absolutely fall in love as I have!

However, due to a slight change in schedule for the week I have not been able to make my weekly grocery trip so I have been scavenging the cupboards.

Some of my favorites include chia pudding for breakfast and also protein pancakes.

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For the chia pudding:

1 cup almond milk

3 Tbs. Chia seeds

2 dates (pitted)

Cinnamon to taste

**Blend til you reach a nice consistency and chill in refrigerator over night. Top with favorite fruit in my case I did black cherries and kiwi and it was heavenly!

Protein pancakes were inspired by toneitup.com

I used their recipe and tweaked it slightly.

3 egg whites

dash of cinnamon

scoop of favorite protein powder (I used doTERRA’s Vanilla Trim Shake)

1 Tbs. almond milk

1/4 cup of oats

1 banana mashed

Mash the banana and add the remaining ingredients. Spray a pan with nonstick spray and put on medium heat. Pour some of the batter on and wait for the bubbles to form before flipping.

Filling:

I made a filling to add between the layers

4-5 strawberries

2 dates (pitted)

1 Tbs. natural peanut butter

dash of almond milk to help blend

Add all ingredients to a jar and mash with fork or blend if you wish.

Spread between pancakes and enjoy!!

 

Hope you like these recipes!

Like and comment away with your thoughts:]

Happy midterms,

S

 

 

Exciting Changes!

Over the next few weeks there will be some minor changes to the layout of the page. This will mostly happen in the different tabs at the top of the page so that it will be easier for you all to navigate instead of one endless stream of posts!

Some of the different tabs will have more information on Essential Oils like the different qualities out there, safety in using them, the history and different uses. Also there will be a tab that will direct you to a place where you can purchase them from as well.

You will also be able to read up on my story and why I am on the journey that I am, as well as, some info on life coaching. If you would like to set up an appointment for life coaching I would love to do that for you. I am still a student in the program and just looking for some practice out in the field, therefore the rates would be extremely cheap!

Other than that you can explore some different recipes that I will do my best to keep updating consistently.

 

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While I wish this is where I was spending my day, I am instead curled up inside on this rainy day working away with some hot tea by my side.

 

Hope your view is a little more like the one above! I look forward to seeing you all on the updated site coming very soon,

S

P.S: I just got back from the doTERRA East Coast Conference where I learned SOO much information on essential oils and the science of why they work so gosh darn good! As soon as my brain has had a chance to recover and process all the information I will be posting it here:D

Dekalb Farmer’s Market

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Dekalb Farmer’s Market is one of my favorite places on earth. It is beyond massive and has almost anything you could think of from exotic fruits to a great fish and meat selection. They have a pastry bar and salad bar that they make fresh each day. It does not seem to matter the day of the week or time that you go, it is always packed! I guess that just adds to the experience though. (You get remarkably well at weaving your cart in and out of packed isles!)

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I always come home with a fresh bounty of fruits and vegetables with the occasional choice of fish. It really is quite comical if you can witness me trying to take a weeks worth of groceries from my car inside in just one trip. Every single week though when I get home I am always inspired to make something tasty and nutritious from my new goodies.

This week I decided to make the salmon that I got and lay it over a bed of mixed greens. Image

I baked the salmon in parchment paper in the oven at 400 degrees for probably 15 minutes. I drizzled a very tiny amount of olive oil on it with salt and pepper. I layered it with thinly sliced lemons and a huge heap of fresh dill.

AWESOME combo if I do say so myself!

Once out of the oven I broke it up with a fork and placed it on top of the greens. To top it off a splash of balsamic vinegar was in order. For the salad you can put whatever you like in it. I added some tomato and cucumber as well.

I have had a craving for sweet potato chips too so I made these lovelies. Image

Thinly slice a sweet potato using a mandolin.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Add a dash of salt and pepper.

Coat them all well and then place on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for probably 45 min. Mine were thicker since I didn’t use my mandolin. If you do have very thin slices you might be able to go for less them. Just check on them throughout the process so you know!

Enjoy!

S

[The top two pictures are thanks to google, but the bottom two are mine]

Paleo cookies and truffles oh my!

Last week I was in quite the chocolate mood to say the least. I thought I would try and do my best to find a healthy version to make and stumbled across these gems at detoxinista! Both of these recipes were so incredibly easy and equally scrumptious. I made the cookies twice within a couple of days.. the first batch didn’t make it out of my apartment (oops!), but the second batch I made specifically for a friend when I went to visit them. 

When I bake I usually use very specific measurements, but since I have moved out on my own I do not have all the nifty little kitchen gadgets so I was left to eyeball it. Thankfully I have gotten pretty proficient at this over the years! 

The cookies were light and fluffy and full of flavor. The only change I made to the truffles was adding 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil to give it a little extra something. I used doTERRAs Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils because they are so pure that you can actually ingest them. (Most essential oils on the market say not to ingest and thats just because they have silent chemical fillers in them that they aren’t telling you!) To get some of doTERRA’s oils click here. If you have any questions about them feel free to message me. 

As for the lovely pictures here you go…

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I would definitely make them again and recommend them to others. 

Lately I have been incorporating a lot of gymnastics strength training into my workouts and just playing around. This is what I grew up doing and get the most joy out of it. I am considering looking in to local gyms to see if they have open workout times for people to come in and use the equipment. It is honestly the best workout you can get and so much fun in the process. 

Hopefully you get a chance to practice some handstands or just work in your balance in a fun way!

On another note school is hectic in its last few weeks so I apologize in advance if posts are not on a consistent day.

 

 Were halfway to Friday I’d say that reason enough to smile if you didn’t have one before!

 

-S

The Tuesday Tidbit

5:30am… The last thing I want right now is to be awake let alone go to a yoga class. 

 

But I know how thankful I am once I get there.

 

The drive is usually a blur, the first downward dog foreign to my body, but my breath is always recognizable. 

 

I begin to get lost in my breath as we approach our first of many chaturangas for the hour. “Goodnight moon, good morning core,” the teacher says with a smile in her voice. 

 

My core was definitely awake as we did several pushups… talk about a wakeup call!

 

Needless to say the combination of the teacher, time of day, and sharing it with a good friend makes it all the better. 

 

Lately between work and midterms it has been super overwhelming. I usually exercise, but even that doesn’t seem to cut it right now. I found this article and know I have been in need of doing this. 

 

Declutter. 

 

And when I say declutter I don’t just mean cleaning out my closets and donating to good will. I mean intense borderline extreme declutter, but I need it. If you need some ideas of what you might want to cut back in your life try this blog where I got my inspiration. Hopefully it helps some of you!

 

What are some of the things you do to reduce stress in your life?

 

I also made this fantastic juice today! It was all citrus which I usually don’t do, but I had a mad craving for it.

 

It constituted of:

 

7-8 oranges

2 grapefruit

1/2 lemon

hunk of ginger

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Run through your juicer and enjoy!

 

I used a recycled Kombucha bottle of mine to store the juice and it had this awesome quote on it…

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What have you tried lately that you thought you couldn’t previously do?

 

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Its a work in progress, getting better and better each day:]

Sweet dreams,

S

 

 

 

Monday night savasana to Tuesday morning flow

No body in their right mind likes Monday, which is probably why I do. It is a chance for me to take everything that I prepared over the weekend and hit the ground running once the alarm clock goes off. 

In a perfect world it would be without an alarm clock, but for now it will have to do. 

My favorite part of Monday… hot yoga with Loren. 

It feels amazing to open up your muscles, mind, and heart and surrender them to a very very hot room… 106 degrees to be precise. 

The first time I walked into a hot yoga class I wanted to run out gasping for cold air. I thought the idea of “breathing your way through it” sounded impossible. Now it is one of my favorite yoga classes! 

The other part I love is the ten minutes or so afterward that I get to catch up with Loren. Usually the weekend takes us apart between work and studies, so this is our time to recap. 

If one were to eavesdrop on our conversation they would probably think someone had just shown us the world for the first time. Our inner child releases and our dreams and aspirations come pouring out. The creativity in our minds is endless and it is magnificent. 

While many hate Monday this is why I love it. I get recharged and ready to go for the week and look forward to all the triumphs and victories it has to offer. 

 

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Well why stop there when you can start your day off with yoga too, right? Well I look forward to 6am yoga now and the drinks to follow!

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Fresh juice and black coffee with a little honey and cinnamon.

Juice

1/2 green apple

1 stalk celery

1 beet

2 large carrots

thumb of ginger

lemon without rhine 

(I think that was everything it was super early when I made it)

 

Have one awesome day,

S