Sustainable living: White Violet Center for Eco-Justice interns gain from the land

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin composed that the white violet represents the best of what she wanted Siblings of Providence and trainees to be: strong and enduring; rooted where they are planted; females whose goodness and beauty radiate beyond Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Today, at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC) at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence, there are interns who represent those traits.

John Michael and Tara Elmore signed on for a year-long internship at WVC starting in March. Tara works with the alpacas and John Michael works in the 5-acre naturally grown garden.

They want finding out everything they can about farm living. They wished to be immersed in a farming experience to see if they were cut out for having their own farm at some point. Or not.

The story of how they came to WVC is interesting. They fulfilled in college, both finished in 2000 from Indiana State University in Terre Haute and started working. John Michael in banking and Tara in both radio and childcare.

Although happy in their careers for many years, they started believing they might want a modification. John Michael didn’t like staring at a computer screen all day and Tara was needing a break from working difficult hours as a radio video jockey who worked weekends and last minute events.

After much conversation, preparation, conserving and training, they chose to stop their jobs and attempt to walk throughout the country.
” We dipped our toes in the Atlantic and started our journey westward,” Tara said.

” We got about 850 miles to someplace in the middle of Illinois and we broke down physically,” John Michael said.

They took a time-out and chose to finish their adventure by striking the highway by car, attempting to follow as near where they would’ve walked as possible.

” So we kept eliminating west for another two and a half months,” John Michael said.

Whether by foot or by vehicle they count on strangers for places to put their tent and sleep every night.

” Typically that’s going to be farmers because they’re going to have sufficient land for that,” John Michael stated. “So we spent a long time on some little farms.”

Tara has good friends from high school dealing with a sustainable farm in California, so they spent about a week there assisting plant nut and fruit trees, gathering plums and raspberries and cleaning up after chickens and ducks.

” We really simply sort of fell in love with that entire way of life,” John Michael said. “We believe.”

So that led to more conversation, preparation and exploration about owning a farm at some point. They chose to try to offer their house in Terre Haute and check out farm learning experiences.

“We believed much better than just go purchase 20 acres and see if we can make it occur that we better practice first,” John Michael stated.

Sibling Paula Modaff suggested to John Michael’s mom that they have a look at the internship program at WVC. They did. They applied and were accepted. Their house offered in February and they started their internship in March.

“It’s Providential, right?” Tara said.

Since then they have actually experienced the daily of organic gardening for a Community Supported Agriculture program and farmers’ market and caring for about 40 alpacas.

“We’re attempting to find out as much as possible about all elements,” Tara said.

Being on the other side of the fence for a year will give the Elmores the experience they need to choose what the next step on their life journey will be. If they choose to someday own a farm that allows others to do what they have actually done at WVC or whether they join the Peace Corp and assist people grow food in their communities, the nuggets they take from WVC and the Sisters of Providence will stick with them constantly. They’ll be strong and endure, but always be rooted where they were planted.