Native American Spotlight
This is our first Native American spotlight for the website. Many more will come as the year goes on.
Lola Cicarelli is a Nipmuc Indian Native originally living in Connecticut . Her family farm (Cicarelli Family Farm) was selected by Grit magazine as homesteader of the year . To be selected as a Homesteader of the year, families need to demonstrate their grit, determination and self-sufficiency. This is a great accomplishment for anyone that is selected.
Thank you for sitting down with me to do this interview. First off congratulations on being selected last year for Homesteader of the year by Grit Magazine. I have also seen that your local newspaper wrote an article on your family farm.
It was nice to get recognition for all of the hard work that we put into our non-traditional lifestyle. Looking back we take great pride in what we have done here, we purchase a farm that hadn’t been worked in years and now it’s thriving with fields full of animals, gardens that don’t want to stop growing, it’s as if we are breathing life back into the farm.
When would you say this lifestyle first began for you?
Several years ago my family and I moved from Connecticut and bought a piece of land
on the New York Pennsylvania border. We decided that if we are going to have farmland that we are going to put it to use. We started small purchasing a few goats and putting up some fence, we planted an average size garden. Over time we started raising more livestock, growing more vegetables and fruit to meet the needs of my growing family. We produce enough now that we are able to Sell the extras to the community and provide wholesome food to the local food pantries.
What would you say makes your food that you produce different from the stuff that you can buy at a grocery store?
We start all of our plants off using only non-GMO seeds in our own greenhouse, and we don’t use any pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Our cattle are never given any kind of hormones or antibiotics unless it’s absolutely necessary.
What other things besides growing fruits, vegetables and raising livestock do you do on the homestead to provide for your family?
In the early spring we tap maple trees and make homemade maple syrup. We raise honeybees and use our honey for our own medicinal purposes. We also have homemade goats milk, soap, lotion, and healing salves. On our farm we have laying hens that provide us fresh eggs daily. Then there is our dairy goats and a Jersey milk cow that provides us with farm fresh milk that we turn into butter and various cheeses. Some of our homemade products we also sell at our local festivals and online.
In which ways do you preserve your foods?
We usually can, dehydrate, or freeze most everything that we raise or grow so it doesn’t go to waste.
What is the thing that you enjoy most about living the lifestyle that you do?
The rewards are endless. You have financial gain, knowledge and know-how, but most importantly self-reliance. It’s a great feeling knowing that we accomplished this on our own and you can live like this on your own. I believe that living this way is better for the environment and for our future generations.
What would you say is one of the least favorite things on the homestead that you do?
Chores are endless and some days it feels like you never get ahead. Winters are rough, waters freeze, and every season brings a new challenge.
What do you do for fun as a family?
Our love for the outdoors draws us towards hunting, fishing, camping and kayaking. We also love four wheeling and walking through a creek to find crayfish. Our daughters enjoy playing sports as well.
What Helpful hints would you provide for someone thinking about jumping into this lifestyle?
You need to find a purpose for everything and you never want to waste anything. For instance if we have extra milk after we make our dairy products, we would give it to other animals that could use it. The chickens love the vegetables from the garden that have turned bad. Then anything left over gets composted and turned right back into our garden.
It’s never too late to start growing a small garden, or having a couple backyard chickens. This will make a tremendous impact on your life.
Where would you like to see yourself in the future?
We have too many goals to list but just to name a couple we would like to provide more wholesome foods for the community and get solar panels to be off the grid and truly live off the land.
Below are a couple links so you can follow them on Facebook.