The Backstory: An Introduction to What Shady Grove Farm is About

Welcome to Notes from a Shady Grove, this is a blog where The Shepherdess of Shady Grove Farm will share musings on wellness, farm life, healing from trauma, and living a life more connected to nature and all the seasons and cycles. 

A little background on me (Cynthia). Who am I and how did I end up here in Central Illinois, running this little farm?

I am a Professor of Social Work at a small midwestern college. I came here in 2007 for my job, and by happenstance ended up in a very old (circa 1885) farmhouse on a small amount of land. For the past several years I have been slowly building this old farmstead up into a place of peace and refuge. 

This includes raising a flock of Icelandic sheep, primarily for their fiber, and a small flock of free-range chickens and ducks. It also includes my focus on folk medicinal herbs, and continuing to improve my little herb garden. I grow plants and herbs that I then use to make calming and immune supportive tinctures, teas, salves, and room sprays. I also work with my sheep's fiber, by having it spun into yarn, using it to make 100% natural wool dryer balls, and weaving their fiber into handmade rugs. All of this is designed to strengthen connections to the natural world, live by the seasons, and create habits of mindfulness and embodied experiences in nature. The end result=to increase holistic wellness and healing, both for us humans and for the planet.

I moved here from my homestate of Michigan, where I was born and raised. I lived in both semi-rural, suburban, and wilderness communities in Michigan growing up and in my young adulthood. I attended The University of Michigan and Michigan State University for graduate degrees in social work, and my area of practice and scholarship has focused on women and trauma, healing, and community engagement. 

Since I am both an educator and a social worker, I like to do outreach and education on embodied nature practices, so that individuals and communities can gain a better understanding of how to find peace and healing in partnership with the natural world. I am particularly interested in truly regenerative approaches to the land, and in partnering with marginalized individuals and communities, as much of my life's work has emphasized social justice and equity. 

I currently run a small Nature-Based Healing hiking group for social work students, that is open to the larger community. We periodically do guided walks at various local preserves, and learn a little bit about mindfulness in nature, plant identification and foraging, the seasons and cycles of nature, respect for the planet and other cultures, and how to gain both physical and mental health benefits from spending time connecting to the natural world. 

Please follow this blog for little tidbits about the workings on the farm, stories from my own personal journey towards healing, and ideas for how to gain a more embodied connection to nature in your own life. You'll find a variety of information and creative writing here, hopefully to inform and inspire you, and you're always welcome to contact me about my beautiful homegrown yarn, handmade rugs, fresh eggs, and other lovingly made farm products. 

Come, find your peace!
(we'll make room for you at the table)
The Shepherdess of Shady Grove