Scenes from the City: Homeadow Song Farm’s Vicki Mansoor
Written by Abby McGuire. Photography by Abby McGuire.
My stomach is full from a breakfast and coffee paid for by a stranger in a coffee shop. I need to be in tune with my intentions, so I write a bit and allow the caffeine buzz to fade. I hop in the car and try to resist buying the plants on tables outside of College Hill Coffee.
As soon as I pull up to Homeadow Song Farm, I know the homestead is no stranger to me; the energy is too welcoming and sweet. I step out of my pollen-covered Corolla, trip on a rock, look around with my mouth agape, and see Vicki Mansoor looking at me as she walks down the stairs.
Vicki is the natural beauty of the land, disguised as a human being. I feel unnatural with a camera hanging from my neck: There is just no way to capture that kind of beauty. Not even words can, but I will try to explain.
She tells me we can only go on so long without creating a true depth for anything we love.
After spending most of the morning alone in my thoughts, I stumble through an introduction. Vicki doesn’t seem to notice; instead, she apologizes. She tells me she isn’t the most organized when it comes to speaking her mind and is worried I won’t be able to find a thread to follow. What she doesn’t know is I am already enthralled and eating from the palm of her hand.
She leads me to one of the classrooms she and three other teachers use to conduct classes and summer camps. The room smells of wood paneling that has soaked up the scent of every meal prepared in the classroom’s kitchen. Light entering from the window falls onto Vicki’s face as she begins to explain how she made it to Homeadow Song.
Homeadow is tucked away behind the trees of College Hill. On the land are houses, one of which Vicki calls home. She and her husband, Peter, have been here since the late ’70s, carrying out the vision of an experiential learning environment. The way I comprehend the existence of such a place is to acknowledge it as a living collaboration.
Vicki is no stranger to collaboration. She is a mother, a thinker, and a true artist. In all of these things, she has found a way to dig deep and extract the nutrients from every experience. Her curiosity to understand what it means to be a child and live a full childhood allowed her to discover what it meant to be a mother. The birth of her son opened her eyes to play and alternative methods of learning. She tells me she is a student of Rudolf Steiner, the creator of Waldorf education.
In the methods of Steiner, she found beauty in the art of being a child of the natural world. She engaged in the Cincinnati Waldorf School for 10 years while her son was enrolled. As a result, Vicki began to dive into the mystery of expression and how we fit within it.
We have to learn to reach for the other side, to grab something and let go of another.
After some time, she left the Waldorf school, wanting to start fresh. She wanted to know what her life could be if she wasn’t “just an artist.” Vicki was motivated to transform herself in a way she considered real. She wanted to grow her food, to understand the land and how one can cultivate a sense of self from the same place her food came from.
She found ways to interact with the land and create art from it. She laughs about her exhibition involving corn she hung in a gallery, inspired by native american Hopi. Really, she just wanted to dry her corn, but she listened to the inner and outer elements she cultivated when growing the corn to establish a work of art.
After some reflection, she talks about being a jack of all trades. I ask if that is a powerful thing – feeling like I am a master of nothing, myself –and she tells me we can only go on so long without creating a true depth for anything we love.
Her wisdom seems boundless and her laughter fills every square inch of the room with light. There is no empty space to fill when we are talking. I am smiling and feeling full in knowing someone so willing to accept what life pushes in their direction. We bond over “signs” the universe sends us, and get around to corn again. She wanted to extract all the benefits from the corn, so she tried to do it just as Hopi tribe would. For this she needed a fish, but had no way of getting one. The Hopi saw their crop to be of great importance, spiritual even, and so they gave everything to it to make sure they would receive the benefits of caring for the land. Next thing she knew, a good friend was driving over with a fish she found on the side of the road in the bed of her truck. We agree that the universe listens to our questions, and always answers.
We all need to take a chance on what it means to be a human.
I think this is why Vicki is such a great listener. She believes that the holistic aspect of anything we do is important. Full immersion is asking questions. It is how she has come to understand that our lives are like the seeds she plants by the moonlight. We exist because the land exists. And so, even in growing corn, she can begin to understand the history of human nurturing and learning through experience. This is how she teaches children, fostering a sense of purpose and belonging through the creation that is growing food and baking.
We all need to take a chance on what it means to be a human. Vicki explains that we are all trying to make sense of what it means to be who we are; and doubting a child’s capacity to understand their existence is a thorn in the side of society. We have to learn to reach for the other side, to grab something and let go of another. She believes it isn’t about sustainability or the up-keeping of what we were taught anymore; it is about breaking down barriers and reubuilding something better for the future.
In the midst of everything, Vicki tells me she never really knows what she is doing, but in not knowing, she finds so many answers. She just asks questions: How do we support the land? How does it support us? How do we fit without harming? And by the end of our conversation, as we watch a moth flutter in the window, she asks if we can be friends. I say of course. I think we always have been.