The Life of a Farmer, Herbalist, and Freelance Writer

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I’m back after a long hiatus on this website. And my, has life changed in some wonderful ways.

Companion Planting | Iowa Herbalist

In my last and most recent article from almost a year ago, I shared with you all how I would be putting my writings about herbalism (for this website) on hold. That’s because in early 2017 my husband William Lorentzen and I finally started our own organic farm – Jupiter Ridge Mushrooms & Veg – a longtime dream.

Our first year has been amazing, full of its trials and tribulations in a way, but the rewards were worth it and our first year was definitely a success. A lot of hard work, energy, sacrifice, and uncertainty went into it all. But I can say with all honesty that I’m even more excited for the upcoming 2018 season than last year’s season.

Last spring, as it always is with farmers, was a time for a huge push to get Jupiter Ridge up off the ground and running. As part of that, I made some big pushes with my writing career, the only other source of income and side-hustle we had to fund our efforts – while putting my personal writings on the back burner.

I’d have to say, success in both areas of my life has unexpectedly come through. We did well at both Cedar Rapids and Dubuque farmers markets, and established some pretty amazing relationships with chefs in both cities and beyond. We got healthy, purely naturally-grown food to tons of people. Those relationships will continue into 2018, and I couldn’t look forward to them more – and to expanding on them.

At the same time, I started to step up my writing career a notch in spring, as it has been an important part of funding our farm endeavors. As a result, articles of mine (on sustainable agriculture and the plight of young farmers) have landed in The Guardian and Civil Eats. What more, I’ve become somewhat of a regular contributor to Rodale’s Organic Life, and a very regular contributor to Healthline on health/home remedy related content.

I’ve written about herbalism, farming, nutrition, sustainability, health, and everything in between, with more clients, article ideas, and publications on my horizon.

Shiitakes Picked | Jupiter Ridge Farm

With this year coming to a close and looking back, I’m excited for my husband and I to strike up more relationships with even more chefs, direct consumers, establishments, and most importantly, people in need. And in order to make that happen with more certainty, I’m stoked to keep pushing my writing career forward, with hopes and plans to get my writing even more and more out there and into more publications, and to work with new clients. (Or maybe a book someday? Who knows!)

Which is why, with delight, I was happy to recently return to this website and take a look at it with fresh, new eyes.

I’m now a farmer, herbalist, and freelance writer all in one. What more, my writing career is in need of it’s very own personal site to promote myself, and promoting our farming endeavors also as an extra would be a huge bonus.

A lot of my writings also focus on health, natural wellness, nutrition, and herbalism anyway, much like this website. I am an herbalist of course, a maker of products in my own personal time (with some hopes to sell health-oriented products alongside our produce and mushrooms), and this is a way to grow and represent my own craft to promote my writing career – as well as my own very unique approach to herbalism as a food-oriented organic grower.

So after a busy year, I’ve returned to Deer Nation Herbs and my personal writings, and I finally know how to seamlessly intertwine it all together as a farmer, herbalist, and freelance writer.

Herb Table | Iowa Herbalist
Photo Credit Hannah White

I’ve also been shocked by how, without any new blog posts or work on the website, it has nonetheless continued to expand with subscribers, social media followers, monthly visitors, and readers. Some of my articles have also risen the ranks quite quickly on Google. (I show up as #6 when you look up how to use a neti pot – I never aimed for that!) So I must be on to something.

As such, instead of welcoming you back to Deer Nation Herbs, I’d like to welcome you to Iowa Herbalist, where you can find all my latest writings, whether personal, professional, or published – and hopefully with a lot more frequency and posts than I have been able to put out over the years (and don’t worry, Deer Nation still exists as strictly the name of my herbalist operation). I bought the domain a couple years ago with plans on doing something with it, and I think it does fit with my writing career and projects quite nicely as a name.

Mixed together will be musings on farm life and its struggles, politics, joys, and the perspective of the young farmer. There will also be writings about herbs, mushrooms, plants, and vegetables, and how they can improve health – whether they are wildcrafted herbs or plants/produce that come straight from (yes!) our very own farm.

And, of course, peppered into all that will be farm updates, writing career news, and more about what this farmer, herbalist, and freelance writer has been up to.

For those interested in my writing work, you could even get in contact with me if you’d like to hire me to put an article or other writing project together for you. (Feel free to check out my portfolio.)

But what I’m most excited about: putting together herbal and plant-based recipes that incorporate farm-grown veggies, fungi, and herbs with wild foods and botanicals, and all with a wellness focus (minus all the woo-woo, health guru, and quackery camps – this is something foodie, wild, and entirely unique I’m aiming for). I have a huge list of ideas to develop, explore, write about, taste, test, make, and illucidate on all their health benefits and nutrition.

As a little preview, here are some of my upcoming projects: making chaga double extract, how to grow baby kale greens all winter, herbal kombuchas, herbal chai lattes, how to harvest herbs wisely in the Midwest, making hops bitters, and so much more.

Herbal Shrub Drink | Iowa Herbalist

Someday there may be products too – and if folks are open to it, there are always herbalist consultations. One day, this might also become part of our farm business’s newsletter to inform a future food & herbal CSA about the health benefits they might find in their own shares.

I’d also love to challenge readers about thinking of a farmer as an herbalist, and perhaps make more herbalists think about being farmers – and to also make people in the food and health worlds think about farmers and herbalists, period. Does it matter if I call myself an Iowa Herbalist rather than an Iowa Farmer? Do these two titles have to be mutually exclusive? There’s a lot to discuss here.

I want to thank all people reading this who have kept up with my writing: thank you for listening.

To those who have also helped my writing career get off the ground: thank you. The same goes for our farm. You know who you are. Thank you. I will be happy to see any of you join me on this new leg of my writing journey as a farmer, herbalist, and freelance writer all in one.

Spring Radish | Jupiter Ridge Farm

And while this blog will transform more into a professional, promotional site of sorts and less of a hobby site, I can assure you that I won’t be changing its content too much. I aim to make it still just as valuable to readers with it’s educational, crafty, foodie, herbal, and sometimes esoteric content.

What better way to promote yourself anyway, other than just doing what you like best and writing about it?