Our visit with Emma Hempstead


Hello everybody, this note is about Emma Hempstead,

In early July a note from Emma Hempstead showed up in my inbox, right away I knew that we were up to something special.

In her brief note Emma stated an interest in the farm and the Commons and wanted to come by and see what we were up to. In addition, Emma included two resources. The first one was to the Agrarian Trust, a national nonprofit she is a legal fellow for, whose mission is to hold farm land in trust for best use, meaning sustainable farming with future generations. The second link was to the Sustainable Economics Law Center, (SELC), whose mission is centered on community resilience and local economic empowerment. They have extensive legal resources for community housingfarmland and cooperatives.

I spent a happy couple of hours reading about these two organizations, feeling real excitement with their missions and work and seeing lots of ways that their visions and work leads, parallels and informs ours at the Farm. In this weird political reality that we are living in, they are real bacons of hope for the future.

The other link that Emma shared with me was a “linked-in" link: about her and her work. I dug in here, as well, finding real excitement in the good work, values and skills of Emma and her generation. To be exposed to that is a treat, drawing out in us a real desire to work with and support.

Emma came to the farm on July 17th and stayed in the Studio until the 20th. Upon arrival we excitedly exchanged books about permaculture, sharing economies, sustainable agriculture, the law, communication, and much more. We shared a bunch of meals together, including Emma's Sunday ritual roasting a chicken and eating it in community with us. Many long and interesting conversations. She drove the train, weeded the garden, cooked food, hiked and foraged with Marijke and joined a semi-intense conversation between Nils and Dori Barton about wetland impact.

While she was here she came and went to other projects in the area, observing this, we learned a lot about how intensely curious Emma is about Cohousing and alternative agricultural oriented models. In many ways Emma reminded us of another Emma, our Granddaughter, Emma Hamilton. Both Emma's are equally warm, very self confident in their values, skills and accomplishments —clear-eyed about where they are heading.

Emma’s goal is to establish a law practice in the Montpelier area; she is actually off to a start with that.  We look forward to learning about how her new career will roll out in her already very accomplished life.

Emma determined, and we agree, that given all the many moving parts in her current life that a move to Windekind in the short term is not a good idea but we all don’t want to rule out an option for her in the long term.  Sensing her keen interest and sensitivity to us and the farm I asked her if she would like to be the founding member of the “Friends of the Commons” thinking that this would give Emma a seat at the table around here while she could help and support the Commons in some important ways. As an attorney who has researched shared housing that relationship could entail her legal skills (i.e. finalize our By Laws).

I asked Emma to follow up on this note, so she has peppered in some of the links and language above, and I will leave it to her to fill in more blanks that she considers helpful to you below. I am excited to see what she does.

Emma thought this was a good idea, so now I will turn the conversation over to her.

Thank you Emma, you have already given us a lot.
Mark and Marijke
From Emma--
Foraging those deep woods and old trails with Marijke who prepared the most nourishing nettle soup I've ever tasted. The meadow's mild-mannered cows looking up as the whimsical and precise trains passed by, painstakingly made in the nearby workshop. Writing my thesis in the studio with my sweet old pup at my feet, who passed away just last week. These are moments I will treasure.
My deep appreciation to Mark & Marijke for allowing me to learn by seeing and being. To explore ideas, strategies and principles with hummingbirds buzzing and the garden blooming, blooming, blooming. I'm overjoyed to learn the particulars of the community you're all establishing. Although I've decided to live in Middlesex, and to set up my practice in downtown Montpelier, I would love to continue a connection with Windekind and explore with you all the community space in that beautiful place. We can co-create new relationships to the land and each other, and I'm excited to join you in this conversation. I do feel clear-eyed about the work ahead and that aspirational lives are possible.

— Emma
Emma Hempstead

Attorney supporting small food producers while protecting natural resources.

LL.M in Agriculture & Food Systems, University of Arkansas 2016
JD Vermont Law School 2014

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