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Christine Marie Bailey is a grateful farmer, writer, and dreamer. Author of the brand-new book, The Kindred Life: Stories and Recipes to Cultivate a Life of Organic Connection, Christine is a former music industry gal turned social entrepreneur turned regenerative produce and flower farmer. She is growing deep roots with her chef husband on their seventeen-acre Kindred Farm in Santa Fe, Tennessee where they gather the community around long tables under the stars several times a year at unique farm-to-table events called Kindred Dinners. Christine is passionate about homeschooling her two wild and free daughters and will always say yes to waterfall-chasing, campfire-sitting, and eating ice cream on the roof under a country sky. She shares adventure and inspiration on her blog, ChristineMarieBailey.com, and her Instagram @organicstine.
You can listen to my conversation with Christine here. And be sure to check our other interviews with amazing guests like Leslie Martino, Durenda Wilson, Jessica Waldock, Julie Bogart, and Amber O’Neal Johnston.
Connect with Christine
- Find her on Instagram
- Read her blog
- Connect with Kindred Farm by signing up for their email newsletter
- Download Christine’s FREE Basil Growing Guide
Here are some of the topics we discussed in this episode:
Christine grew up in suburban New Jersey not far from New York City. She didn’t have a farming background, but her mom always had a garden and showed her what it looked like to pursue beauty, whimsy, and adventure. Christine’s grandfather immigrated from Italy through Ellis Island and turned his entire backyard into a tomato garden, so that love of growing things is certainly in her blood.
Christine left New Jersey to study music and business at Belmont University in Nashville where she worked in the music industry for many years. That’s where she met her husband Steven and they eventually moved to Dallas. Around 2009 they saw the documentary Food Inc., and that really lit a fire in them to be part of the local, organic food movement. They began frequenting farmer’s markets, learning from local farmers, and starting their own backyard garden. Several years later they decided to try their hand at farming and moved back to Tennessee.
Homeschooling is something Christine was interested in even before she started a family. She has always been passionate about learning and loved the idea of sharing that with her children. As self-employed entrepreneurs, Christine knew that homeschooling would provide unique opportunities for freedom, flexibility, and family togetherness that really aligned well with their lifestyle, so she has homeschooled from the very beginning.
Christine’s homeschool rhythms
Sit-down learning happens for about 4 hours a day, and the family participates in a tutorial one day a week to cultivate community and take some classes that they don’t focus on as much at home. The rest of the day is life learning in various ways: entrepreneurship, cultivating individual gifts, and helping on the farm.
Reading aloud is a big part of Christine’s homeschool day. Connecting through books and having the time to slow down and be immersed in stories together is always a priority.
Here are a few books Christine and her girls have enjoyed:
Christine’s vision for a nourishing life of connection
“I believe that I can live out my faith in tangible ways here on earth by connecting to those visceral experiences that draw us together, that have drawn us together since God created us and still do, like sharing meals around the table, cultivating community, and being intimately connected to the land in some way. We’ve built our farm around drawing people together around the table, and that’s one of the biggest ways that we cultivate a nourishing life of connection. I understand that the kingdom of God is here on earth now, and that’s something that I can feel, that’s something I can touch, and it’s something that’s lived out in the sacredness of the every day.”
What it means to farm in a sustainable way
Sustainable farming, also called regenerative farming, is about preserving the earth in a way that provides healthy food for us today, but also preserves the land for the future. This type of farming is constantly contributing back to the land and not just taking from it.
When Christine and Steven purchased their land in 2015, parts of the property had been farmed in World War II times, but most of it was just a blank slate. Very dense clay soil, lots of rocks. And they turned it into huge, vibrant fields where thousands of pounds of food are grown and shared with so many people. Christine takes seriously the responsibility of being a good steward of the land and helping the ecosystem to thrive. That includes things like crop rotation, adding compost to the soil to encourage beneficial organisms, and planting flowers for healthy pollinators like bees and butterflies.
The first year on the farm Christine and her husband planted many, many different types of produce, but since then they’ve honed in on what they’re really passionate about. Christine loves to grow potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and lettuce, as well as flowers like zinnias and sunflowers.
How can someone get started if they have the desire to grow something, but they don’t know where to begin?
Christine’s advice is to start small: “I would say just start small. Start with one thing that’s easy to grow in your area. You can look up your gardening zone, and see what things thrive the best in your climate.”
Christine wrote a guide to growing your own basil because it’s so great for beginners. It’s very satisfying to grow, it’s goes well in so many dishes, it smells amazing, and it’s easy for most people to grow even if you just have a single container.
Start where you are and do what you can to begin. Once you see that you can actually grow something and you are part of that beautiful process of being there from the seed to your plate, that is an amazing, beautiful, motivating thing, and that will encourage you to keep going.
Other suggestions to start:
- Get to know your local farmers
- Visit your local farmer’s market
- Volunteer at a farm near you
Tell us about your book, The Kindred Life. How did this book come to be?
Christine says, “I feel like this is the book I’ve had in my mind and heart for so many years. It’s what I’ve always wanted to write.”
Writing is a passion that Christine has nurtured through all the different seasons of life. Even when she was working other jobs and had small children at home, she’s always made time to write.
When she turned 40, shortly after moving to the farm, Christine decided it was time to be brave and start seeking out more opportunities as a writer. She became a contributor at The Art of Simple and wrote a vulnerable post there about finding freedom from her struggles with body image. Christine’s writing caught the attention of an editor, who reached out and offered Christine a publishing contract. When it came time to write, the book just came pouring out of her.
The Kindred Life is the story of how Christine has been finding a life of deeper connection to community, to the land beneath us, to life around the table. It’s a rallying cry for connection in a time when we need to foster that more than ever. It takes intentionality to keep those beautiful, sacred practices alive in our lives at a time when there are so many other things fighting for our attention. This book is partly a memoir and partly a guide that invites people to join Christine in living a life of deeper connection right where they are.
One of the themes is that beauty is found and created out of the dirt and the mess. Not a single one of us can say that our life is not messy in some way, and that we’re not wading through some really, really hard things, but what I’ve found is there is always light breaking through. There is always beauty to be found.
Christine’s final words of advice
Christine shares, “Don’t discount the small moments. It’s not too late to live a more connected life, and I absolutely believe it’s worth fighting for. If there’s something that feels off in our family that we feel like needs to be reclaimed or changed so that we can live that life of deeper connection, it is worth it to make steps toward that.“