The Urban Exodus Podcast

Urban Exodus

Ditch the City and Go Country. Practical advice for country dreamers, rural folk, and urban-dwellers alike, who want to feel more connected to the natural world and the purpose and choices in their lives. A movement is underway of people abandoning the emotional, physical, and financial expenses of city living and crafting their own purpose, livelihoods, and joy in the rural reaches. Urban Exodus gives an intimate and authentic glimpse into the lives of those who decided to embark on the road less traveled to pursue their own interpretation of “The Good Life.” The Urban Exodus Podcast celebrates rural living and shares the stories of those who are crafting creative, sustainable, and self-sufficient lives.

All Episodes

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Bo Dennis of Dandy Ram Farms. Bo is a flower farmer, a new farmer advocate and rural queer activist. This is an insightful and honest interview, and I’m very grateful for Bo’s trust in sharing his story on the podcast. As a queer and trans person who has lived in rural spaces his entire adult life, Bo’s lived experiences offer a glimpse into the hardships LGBTQ+ people still face when it comes to accessing health services, and feeling safe and accepted in their rural communities.He has lived in small towns throughout Maine, ranging from a small island of only 11 year-round residents to current hometown with 900 residents. Bo is deeply passionate about breaking down the many barriers in farming and speaks on the real need for more financial transparency and acknowledgment of privilege in the small-scale farming space. In addition to running his small-scale flower business, Bo also works for the Maine Organic Famers and Growers Association - as a New Farmer’s Program Specialist - where he helps connect new farmers to educational, financial and infrastructure support to get their farm business going.  In our conversation today we speak about his experience as a queer person living in rural America, farming and farm activism, making a living as a farmer while grappling with erratic climate shifts, and his hopes for the future of agriculture. This is a story about self-love, resilience, and not letting anything get in the way of living your purpose. I hope you enjoy.To find links to Bo's website, social accounts and to see images from our visit to Dandy Ram Farm on the Urban Exodus Blog. This is a story about self-love, resilience, and not letting anything get in the way of living your purpose. I hope you enjoy it!

Nov 26

1 hr 11 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Alicia Malone. Alicia is a recent Maine transplant, who relocated from Los Angeles during Covid. Alicia was born and raised in Australia. She is a published author, film expert, and most well known for her role as a host on Turner Classic Movies. Her two books -- Backwards and in Heels  and The Female Gaze - focus on the role of women in cinema history, and the accomplishments and struggles of many female filmmakers today.Ever since she was a kid, Alicia has been obsessed with cinema. She knew she wanted to someday work in the film industry, and was super focused towards manifesting her goal of building a career in the highly competitive entertainment industry. Instead of going to college, Alicia moved to Sydney right out of high school to work behind the scenes in television production. After cutting her teeth as a film journalist in Australia, she moved to Los Angeles, with the specific goal in mind to one day work as a host for Turner Classic Movies. Contrary to the many assumptions about the role of a television host, Alicia writes all of her own scripts, and loves the viewing and researching process more than her time on camera.As a child, Alicia grew up on a farm and always dreamed that she would go back to live in the country someday. It was always that “one day” sort of dream, but when the pandemic hit, that dream finally seemed like a viable option. Alicia was working remotely, and taking trips every couple of months to film for Turner Classic Movies at their headquarters in Atlanta. She realized nothing was keeping her in the stressful, congested, party scene of Los Angeles. On a whim, she found a monthly Airbnb rental in a town in Maine that she had only driven through once. Even though she'd never spent anytime there, that one drive thru was enough to enchant her and make her want test the waters to see if could feel like home. In less than a month, she knew this was where she wanted to plant permanent roots. She quickly bought her first home because she saw real estate prices increasing and inventory decreasing. While most of her work takes place outside of her small community, Alicia is currently pursuing a dream to open a local independent theater. She wants to show classic and contemporary films and is looking forward to contributing to the "movie memories" of others.Alicia is such an inspiration, not only because of the joy and tenacity with which she approaches following her dreams, but the life she has built for herself on her own terms. I know how grateful she is to make the shift back to small town life after decades of building her career in big cities. I love hearing about how returning to a small town has allowed her to re-experience her childhood rural roots, and also return to a more authentic version of herself - even dyeing her hair back to her natural blonde. Alicia took her physical move as an opportunity for a mental shift as well in prioritizing her health, and also stepping back from the rat race and ‘more is more’ mentality. In our conversation, we speak about her advice for urbanites making the dramatic shift to small town life, moving while single, Alicia’s lifestyle and career choices, and the changes she has witnessed in herself since leaving the bustle of city life. This is a story of following your intuition, new beginnings, and the pursuit of happiness. I hope you enjoy listening. You can find photos of my visit with Alicia and links to her books and social accounts by visiting the Urban Exodus Blog. 

Nov 19

1 hr 4 min

I’m excited for you to hear my conversation with Daniel White - homesteader, explorer, and all-around trailblazer. Originally from Ashville, NC, Daniel grew up a city boy. Yet, deep down, he always had a desire to live closer to the natural world.Daniel dropped out of high school at 16 and in his mid 20s took a job as an electrician. He spent over half a decade working 60 plus hour work weeks. At 31, he boarded his first airplane and immediately got the travel bug. After a bad break up he decided to quit his job, cash out his 401k and savings, and hike the Appalachian trail. With no training, his first time sleeping in a tent was on the trail. Daniel documented his experience online for his friends and family and began to amass a following of supporters who helped him stay the course and hike all the way from Georgia to Maine. Originally, Daniel didn’t think he would hike the whole trail and just planned to keep going until he couldn't afford to go any longer. He decided to document his experience on his social accounts and in a short period of time he amassed a number of supporters from all over the world that were able to keep him and his adventures going until he finished the trail in Maine. After that transformative 190 day journey, Daniel continued his adventures, biking the 2,000 mile underground railroad trail, hiking Scotland and Spain from coast to coast, and most recently the island nation Dominica.Perhaps Daniel's biggest adventure and challenge to date is realizing the dream he and his late father shared. Through contributions from his online community, Daniel was able to purchase 10 acres of land in northern Maine and is building his vision of a community homestead of tiny houses for like-minded folks who wish to enjoy a  lifestyle outside of the confines of the city. Daniel has zero pretense for the things he has conquered and achieved thus far. He is a person of action, a person who has realized that the people that succeed the most, often also fail the most and then are able to brush themselves off and try again. I think so many of us have these little voices in our heads that tell us we can’t do this or can’t do that, but I hope listening to Daniel’s wisdom and story helps inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and work towards whatever you want to manifest or change in your own life. Fear of the unknown and fear of being uncomfortable is a powerful deterrent on a path to greater happiness and self-reliance. Daniel has had the courage to take control of his destiny and work towards his own vision of a life well lived. That hasn’t been the easy route in any regard, but it is one that he is committed to and I know he will be successful in. In this modern day and age, each one of us has the power to share our stories and to connect with like-minded people - across the globe. I encourage you to follow Daniel’s journey and consider contributing to the build out Zion North. Daniel's story is one of tenacity, self-reliance, courage, and the endless pursuit of adventure. I hope you enjoy it. To see photos from my visits to Zion North, links to Daniel's website, crowdfunding campaign and social accounts visit the Urban Exodus Blog. 

Nov 12

1 hr 15 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with artist, embroiderer and DIY designer Sarah Benning. At first glance, Sarah's life seems like a vision from the past. She lives in a historic Victorian home in New Hampshire, and spends most of her days embroidering.  Although, in actuality Sarah is a successful contemporary artist, creating one of a kind hand stitched artworks, DIY kits and digital embroidery patterns. Sarah studied painting in college and despite being drilled in school that in order to be a successful artist you have to live in a big city, she decided to throw caution to the wind and leave Chicago and city life after graduation. She took a job as a nanny and in her downtime began experimenting with embroidery as a creative medium. She found that the lower cost of living and the less stressful lifestyle gave her more free time, which actually inspired her creative process and ingenuity in taking up an antiquated art form and bringing it into the 21st century. Documenting her work and process on Instagram in the early days of the app Sarah amassed an enormous online following that helped her begin selling her work. In just a year and a half, Sarah reached a point where she felt like she could make art her full time hustle. She has slowly built a sustainable art business by constantly evolving her work and offerings to keep up with the wants and needs of her customers. Now, both Sarah and her husband work full time to run the business. They are able to live in a small town and have much more flexibility in their lives. I am so inspired by Sarah’s creative journey of taking a leap from side hustle to full time artist. I also really appreciate her journey of leaving the city and moving to a tiny community before realizing that a slightly larger small town felt more like home. Sarah’s story speaks to both the intense amount of work it requires to build your own business and also the tremendous rewards of having more autonomy over your own life. I encourage you to peruse Sarah’s online shop or consider taking one of her workshops. This is a story of making your passion your profession, being open and willing to make creative evolutions, rural entrepreneurship in the digital age, the lost art of embroidery, and so much more. I hope you enjoy it. For links to Sarah's work, social accounts and photos from her creative home and studio visit the Urban Exodus blog. Photo credit: Sanders Three

Nov 5

1 hr 4 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with David Barron. David is a true renaissance man, juggling a busy and fulfilling life as a firefighter, farmer, parent, and community leader in Western Oregon. David grew up in Arkansas, and moved to Oregon as a teenager. He and his family grow vegetables, raise animals, keep bees, and make and sell bath and body products on their farmstead. He practices and advocates for regenerative agriculture, using a curricular approach to tending his crops and animals, and keeping healthy bees.In addition to his heroic work as a structure firefighter in one of the most fire-prone parts of the country, David works as a leader with the youth organization Word is Bond. The group seeks to heal and reconstruct the narrative between young black men and law enforcement through leadership development, thoughtful dialogue, and civic action. His family also hosts an agriculture camp on his farm every year. All of David’s work is in direct benefit to his community whether it be putting out fires, providing nourishment, volunteering with youth, or hosting country curious urbanites on his farm as a part of his Urban Outreach program. You can tell through his words and his actions how much he really cares and is optimistic about making the world a better place. It is all too easy to feel bogged down by all the world’s problems, and while it is necessary to call out our society’s wrongs, David’s perspective is so refreshing and a great reminder of all the things we can do to manifest change on a local level. No matter how big or small, we shouldn’t discount the actions we can take to make our families, loved ones, and communities stronger. David is an inspiring person for so many reasons, but his positivity and love for his work and community is what makes him so wonderful to listen to. I hope you enjoy!To see photos from his farm and links to his website, social and Word is Bond, visit the Urban Exodus Blog. 

Oct 29

1 hr 11 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with V Smiley, a former chef and the passionate driving force behind V Smiley Preserves - a honey-based jams, savory preserves and marmalades business based in New Haven, Vermont. V was born on a farm in rural Vermont, a child of Back-to-the-Landers. Some of V’s fondest childhood memories are sitting around the table enjoying delicious meals grown on their farm. In their early twenties V came out as queer and it was not well received, especially by V’s father. Feeling unwelcome to return home, V moved to the West Coast and started working in restaurants. The pace and culture of the restaurant industry was intense so when V had an opportunity to make preserves for a seasonal fine dining restaurant - which had a different skill set, pace and hours, V jumped at the chance. Thus began V’s mastery and passion for preserves. V Smiley Preserves was built in Seattle as a side hustle with the full intent to eventually move that business back to V’s childhood home and farm in Vermont. V's story hopefully will speak to anyone out there dreaming of returning to their rural roots but can't figure out how to find employment or build a business. V transitioning from employee to employer has required analysis of the system and culture of the food industry to see where improvements and changes can and should be made. It is I am so inspired by V and Amy’s vision for the future and their tireless work they’ve put into creating a rural destination in New Haven. It is extremely difficult to build something from scratch and trying to find funding when you are one of the first businesses trying out a unique business model in a rural location. I hope V is able to make the mini-factory a reality. I encourage anyone listening who is a jam or preserves lover to treat yourself to V’s incredible line-up of products. This is a story of homecoming, careful and intentional planning, legacy, perseverance and preserves. I hope you enjoy it. To find links to V's 2018 UE feature, interview questions, photos and more - visit the Urban Exodus Blog. 

Oct 22

1 hr 18 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Hana Oh, a recent rural transplant, mother, goat, sheep, cow and chicken keeper, and newly Licensed Master of Social of Work who lives with her young daughter about an hour outside of Waco, Texas. Hana's parents immigrated to the United States from Korea in the 1980s. She was raised in the evangelical faith in the culturally diverse city of Houston, Texas. In the fourth grade her parents relocated to a rural community just outside of Austin, Texas. Looking back that year was a particularly hard and traumatizing time in her life, "Houston is one of the most diverse and cultured cities, so going from that to being one of very few children of color in a white, rural town was difficult. My brother and I experienced racism at school, but didn't have any language for what we were experiencing and just didn't know how to name it or talk about it. We moved back to Houston a just year later."Hana's lived experiences have shaped who she is today and have called her to work towards positive change in the world. Feeling the enormity and weight of the collective problems we are facing as a society, Hana returned to school to study social work so that she can dedicate her energy and skills towards making tangible, impactful change. In this episode we speak on the power of collaboration, being called to a purpose greater than yourself, why real progress takes time, and her experiences living in rural Texas during such a difficult and contentious time in U.S. history. I so appreciate the way Hana uses her compassion, energy and intention to work towards impactful change on a local level. Her vision for the future is a world where anyone can walk down the street at any time of day or night and feel safe. I also really appreciate her approach to transitioning to rural living by moving slowly and not rushing into trying to do or master all the things all at once. I think it is easy to jump into rural life and want to get all the animals, grow all the food, do all of the things, but there is really something to be said for observing and moving slowly with intention - by listening. I hope her words were inspiring to anyone feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of problems we face and anyone embarking on their homesteading journey and feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending "to do" list. I encourage you to think about ways you can make a small impact in your own way, using the skills and connections you have. We all have a part to play in the making a better future.Thank you Hana for sharing your story with us! Follow @ohhana on Instagram. To see images from her homestead, visit the Urban Exodus Blog. 

Oct 15

1 hr 7 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Melissa Rebholz, a chef, farmer and the passionate driving force behind Midge’s Kitchen in Wheeling, West Virginia. I initially connected with Melissa back in 2015 when she was farming solo in the rural Appalachian town of Greenville, Tennessee. Several years before I visited, Melissa had left NYC to learn to farm. She moved around to different farm jobs, including a stint in California working at Green String farm. The cost of living in California, paired with her desire to be closer to her family in upstate New York inspired her move to Tennessee to grow for a non-profit farm. Several years after I visited Melissa in Greenville, she had to leave the home and farm she had built to remove herself from an abusive relationship and start from scratch. The inner strength Melissa has harnessed to break free from that toxic relationship and start anew is inspiring. Melissa has moved several times since leaving Tennessee and planted roots in Wheeling at the beginning of the pandemic. The pandemic made Melissa realize that she needed to stop postponing her dreams and go after them - there is no sense waiting for the right time because there is no such thing as perfect timing. In 2020 Melissa left her job and enrolled in a small business incubator program so that she could put together a plan and finally build her own food related business. She encourages anyone wanting to start a small business to listen to their own community's wants and needs because the ultimate goal of any small business is fix a problem or fill a hole in local offerings. Melissa is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to growing food, farming, building a community and a business in a new place. My hope is that Melissa's entrepreneurial will inspire others to consider betting on themselves and working towards building their own business.  I highly encourage anyone who finds themselves in Wheeling, West Virginia, to go eat at Midge's Kitchen. To read Melissa's Urban Exodus feature from 2015 and see images of her culinary delights and kitchen garden visit the Urban Exodus Blog.

Oct 8

59 min 55 sec

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Christopher Joe, a 3rd generation Black Angus cattle farmer, a District Conservationist for the National Resources Conversation Service, and the founder of Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours. Christopher's family has owned 200 acres forests and fields in Alabama’s Black Belt since the early 1900s. Christopher was raised with a deep respect of agriculture, land stewardship and the natural world. In addition to running the farm, Christopher's father worked as an agribusiness educator for over thirty years and Christopher earned a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness Management from Alabama A&M University.Chris is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to finding creative ways to use your land to benefit yourself, your community and the greater ecosystem - no matter if you have hundreds of acres or a small allotment. At the NRCS Christopher works farmers and land owners to help them best utilize and conserve their property. While looking for creative ways to diversify the Joe Farm's income streams, Christopher reached out to different area organizations and universities to get their thoughts on ways of incorporating agri-tourism into their farming operations. Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours was born in 2018, giving birders and naturalists access to explore and birdwatch on Christopher's family's farm. By partnering with local small businesses, Christopher has created opportunities for the entire local economy. This has led to the creation of jobs, regional economic development, and support for local landowners/businesses, in his historically underserved community. In addition to the birding tours, Christopher and his father have begun to receive grants to build bird houses, towers and boxes for University studies. He has also discovered a deep love of birding and photography. These days he never leaves home without his camera and his "rocket launcher" birding lens. Christopher's Instagram is filled with beautiful captures of the birds he finds and now he is selling his photo prints to visitors. In addition to his photography, they have added camping, nature walks, mountain biking, bird houses and other offerings to further diversify their farm income and ensure they can continue to maintain and keep their family land in the future. My hope is that Christopher's journey into agritourism will inspire others to think up creative ideas for diversified rural entrepreneurship and land stewardship. It's amazing to see the power and opportunity that one agritourism business can have on the greater natural and economic ecosystem. I highly encourage anyone going through Alabama, even if you aren’t a birder, to go take a birding or naturalist tour at the Joe Farm. To learn more about their programming or schedule a tour visit their website. To see photos of the Joe Farm, birding tours and Christopher's birding images, visit the Urban Exodus Blog

Oct 1

1 hr 24 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Simone Leon, a writer, and film festival program producer living in Camden, Maine. After attending film school, Simone was thrilled to land a job working for a major talent agency in Los Angeles. While she loved the people she worked with and the projects she got to assist on, the traffic, long hours, stress and pollution began to overwhelm her. Simone began dreaming of living a life on her own terms and moving to a place where nature was closer and local food was plentiful and affordable. At 25, she left her job in the film industry and moved across the country to work as a talent/locations scout for a small creative workshop school. Even though it was a big pay cut, it was the perfect job to meet people and become familiar with her new home of Midcoast Maine. I met Simone in 2019 while teaching a course at the school where she worked. She has been a trusted freelance collaborator, assisting me on writing stories, planning workshops and producing podcast episodes. In addition to her freelance work, she works full time as a program coordinator for Points North Institute - a documentary film festival and launching pad for documentary filmmakers. I am so grateful that our paths crossed because of Urban Exodus. Without Simone's encouragement and help I probably would’ve never had the courage to start this podcast. I look forward to future collaborations with this incredibly intelligent and hardworking woman and I look forward to seeing what Simone and her partner build for themselves here in Maine.To see photos from our photo tour of Simone's home and links to her partner's music, visit the Urban Exodus Blog

Jul 30

52 min 14 sec

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Safiya Khalid, a fearless young politician who is inspiring her community and the next generation of civic leaders. Safiya was born in Somalia and fled the country with her mother and siblings. They were initially placed in New Jersey but found their way to Lewiston, Maine for the community. Lewiston has a large population of African immigrants, with 10% of the population from Somali. Safiya learned how to speak English in Lewiston schools and became an American citizen at age 14. She worked for LLBean making boots during high school and college. Safiya’s mother instilled a strong desire to help others and this upbringing inspired Safiya to run for office to be a voice for her community.  In 2019 she ran for Lewiston city county at age 23. Safiya was singled out by hate groups during her election and received racist messages and threats from all over the country. She didn’t let that hate deter her and won her seat by nearly 70 percent of the vote. Safiya is the first Somali-American council member and is working hard to bring more opportunities to Lewiston and be a voice for her constituents. I am so inspired by her passion, courage and drive to help her community. Safiya is a powerful agent of change and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this hardworking young woman. As a Mainer, it was really such an honor to get to interview Safiya. You can find a link to additional photos by visiting


Jul 23

41 min 24 sec

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Alyson Morgan, the photographer, artist, environmentalist and herbalist behind @alysonsimplygrows and Earth Star Herbals, based in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Alyson grew up in the Bay Area of California and met her partner while attending college at UC Davis. After studying international relations, she took a job into the nonprofit world and became increasingly alarmed by our imminent climate catastrophe. Alyson and her husband decided to move back to his home state of Wisconsin because they felt like California’s water crisis, natural disasters and high-cost of living would make it challenging and stressful to raise a family there. After a brief stint living in the heavily segregated city of Milwaukee, they realized their dream of leaving the city and building a life in a rural town. They set their sights on the small, progressive community located in the Driftless region of Wisconsin. After a few visits to look at properties for sale, they toured a small in-town home with a big established medicinal garden. Although it was smaller than they were looking for, this home allowed them to downsize and work towards greater minimalism in the lives. The former owner walked Alyson through the garden and this began Alyson’s journey into herbalism. She started Earth Star Herbals right before the pandemic, offering a variety of small batch flower essences. In addition to running her small business, she is also a mother to two, a photographer, writer and ambassador for different sustainable and ethically made brands. It is a constant juggling act with her partner AJ to keep all the balls in the air. With her two young children at home during the pandemic, she has had to carve out little moments here and there to continue working towards her goals for the future. I am so inspired by Alyson’s incredible ability to tap into her intuition and let that lead her towards a rewarding and fulfilling path in life. She has boundless creativity and curiosity, learning through experimentation. I love that she is using her voice to inspire and encourage others to think more about what they consume and how they spend their time. I just love her photography and the intimate way she sees and captures the world around her. Her passion for plants is ever apparent in her photography.Last year Alyson and her family bought raw land outside of town to build their forever homestead. It took a lot of research to find land that wasn’t near commercial agriculture where pesticide drift would be a problem. The land has an old orchard, sugar maples, wild black caps and a stream for swimming and splashing. They put in a road this last year and hope to start building their forever homestead in the next couple of years. Like everything in Alyson's life, she is attempting to take her time on this home build and think things through. In addition to her other endeavors, Alyson is currently writing a book about the healing power of plants for a major publisher that will be released in 2022. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this hardworking creative force as she continues to realize and work towards her intuitive vision for the future. You can find links to her Howe Hill Farm workshop waitlist, her Earth Star Herbal website, photos from her daily life, and more on the Urban Exodus Blog.

Jul 16

1 hr 12 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Helena Sylvester, the farmer and creative force behind Happy Acre Farm and Harvest Queen. Happy Acre farm is located in the rolling hills of Sunol, California. Helena and her partner Matthew started farming after binge watching a bunch of eye opening documentaries about our food system. They wanted to know where their food came from and wanted to provide healthy food for others. They built their farm on one acre of rented land in the Sunol AgPark. We visited Helena and Matthew in the winter of 2019 when she was seven months pregnant with their son August. It was an exciting but stressful time as the couple considered their farming future with a new baby. Although it is a constant juggling act, Helena has found creative ways to make farming with a baby and toddler work from both a day-to-day perspective and a financial perspective. Helena now works part time on the farm and part time on the brand team at Carhartt - a role she pitched to the company after working as a brand ambassador for them. In addition, she continues to build Harvest Queen, a passion project encouraging people to eat seasonally and support their local farmers. After working the farmers market circuit for many years she realized how desperately there needs to be more education when it comes to the cost of food, seasonality and supporting your local farming community. Harvest Queen has become a trusted resource for people in the Bay Area and beyond - who want to connect their food chain dots. I am so inspired by Helena’s fearless attitude when it comes to trying new things, creating her own opportunities and using her voice and platform to educate and amplify the voices of farmers and farm workers. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this hardworking woman as she continues to build Harvest Queen and Happy Acre Farm’s olive oil business. Visit the Urban Exodus Blog for additional photos of Helena's farm and family, links to her websites, social accounts, and a link to her Urban Exodus farm feature from 2019. Thank you Helena for sharing your story with us! 

Jul 9

1 hr

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Clara Coleman, the farmer and farm activist behind Real Farmer Care and Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. Clara is the next generation, carrying on the farming and farm activism legacy created by her parents.  Clara was a child of back-to-the-landers and was raised running wild on her parents homestead in rural Maine. Her father, Eliot Coleman, has dedicated his life to organic farm activism and experimentation. He has written numerous books on growing food year round. This upbringing instilled a real appreciation and love of farming in young Clara but she yearned to see the world and left Maine to embark on her own adventure. She settled in Colorado, started a family and built her first farm business there. Farming in the West required her to adapt her growing skills to drier conditions, longer seasons and dramatic daily temperature shifts. After nearly two decades away, Clara returned to the peninsula where she was raised, with her two sons, and took over running operations for her family’s Four Season Farm. In addition to running the farm, Clara is passionate about advocating and caring for farmers through her Real Farmer Care program. She wants to help inspire and support the next generation of farmers and help guide them towards creating sustainable and lasting farming legacies for future generations. I so appreciate Clara’s passion for farming and supporting farmers and farm workers. She is carrying on the farm activist legacy of her father in her own unique and important way.To see additional photos, visit the Urban Exodus Blog OTHER LINKS• Instagram: @farmerclara @fourseasonfarm @realfarmercare • Donate to Real Farmer Care • Listen to the Winter Growers Podcast (Hosted by Clara)• Read our Urban Exodus feature of Eliot & Melissa Coleman (Clara's father and sister) 

Jul 2

48 min 25 sec

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Jonna Lagunas, the Minnesotan homesteader behind J and L Coop. Jonna is a first generation Mexican American immigrant, her parents and elder siblings immigrated to the United States before she was born. Jonna grew up in the city Minneapolis in a tight-knit immigrant community. She spoke Spanish at home and English in school. Battling prejudice in college, Jonna decided to quit school and go straight into the work force. Her personality, intelligence and work ethic opened doors and she quickly began climbing the corporate ladder. Even with her early career success, Jonna felt like something was missing. She grew tired of the hustle and the party scene in Minneapolis. When an opportunity to relocate came up, she jumped. At 21, Jonna moved to the small farming community of Zumbrota, Minnesota. While living in Zumbrota, she met her partner Laramie though a neighbor. Although it wasn't love at first sight, it quickly grew into a friendship and then a lasting union. Now, thirteen years later, Jonna and Laramie are building a happy homestead on their rented piece of heaven - a former dairy farm, complete with a farmhouse, barn and acres of fertile land, in Pine Island, Minnesota. I so appreciate Jonna's candidness, grace and her approach to life. She has had to make a lot of difficult decisions to realize her own unique path to happiness - from choosing to leave college, to moving to the country, to not having kids, to leaving the corporate world, to building a homestead. You can see photos from her homestead and read more about her move from the corporate world and city to a small town in Minnesota visit: can follow Jonna on Instagram @jandlcoop

Jun 25

1 hr 5 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Franchesca Duval, the environmentalist and backyard poultry farmer behind Alchemist Farm. Franchesca’s love of chickens began at a young age. After planting roots on three acres of land, she realized her dream of having her own backyard flock. When she started researching the best hatcheries to get chicks from she was horrified to learn the standard practice of killing all the male chicks. In response, Franchesca decided to build her own humane hatchery, offering birds with wonderful temperaments and beautiful eggs. She started with an incubator in a bathtub and in under a decade has built a successful nationally recognized hatchery business. For Franchesca, her sustainable small business journey hasn’t been focused on financial success, her primary goal is to make a positive impact in the world. I so appreciate the zero waste and creative environmental solutions Franchesca has applied to every aspect of her home life and business. She is constantly improving and making adjustments to be a more mindful consumer and encouraging and teaching others to do the same. Franchesca's respect for the planet and all of the creatures that live here is so refreshing. Chickens are arguably the most abused animal on our planet and Franchesca is dreaming up revolutionary ways to change the industry for the better. I encourage you to support her efforts and follow her on Instagram @alchemistfarm. If you are interested in learning more about chicken keeping you can take an online workshop with Franchesca and you can also order chicks and eggs on their website. We toured Alchemist Farm in January of 2020. We have included a bunch of photos from our visit and additional interview questions that Franchesca responded to before the pandemic on the Urban Exodus Blog.Franchesca is powerful agent of change and I so look forward to seeing how she continues to inspire others to follow a path towards sustainability, zero waste and greater self-reliance. 

Jun 18

1 hr 4 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Matthew Ross, the community activist, minister, musician, father and homesteader behind Blackhaven Ranch. Matthew grew up on the south side of Chicago. His father a Baptist minister, Matthew was raised in the church and being of service to his community was instilled in him at a young age. A desire to be more self-sufficient inspired Matthew and his family to start raising chickens and growing food in their yard in Chicago. They instantly fell in love with the process of growing food from seed to table and dreamed of building a rural homestead where they could expand their operation and raise their kids immersed in the natural world. Matthew also wanted to create a refuge where others who were interested in leaving city life could explore nature and learn invaluable skills for more self-sufficient living. Matthew tried for many years to fundraise to buy several thousand acres where this safe haven could be built but when he couldn’t find a way to make his larger vision work, he decided to do it for his own family and create a template that could be replicated or expanded upon in the future. He started screen printing “Freedom Ain’t Free” t-shirts to fund the purchase of 40 acres of land in the Missouri Ozarks to build his own Blackhaven Ranch. Matthew is still in the development stages of turning his raw land into a place where he and his family live year round and work towards building their rural agritourism business. Blackhaven Ranch’s mission is to provide alternative solutions to urban oppression by promoting agriculturally centered, holistic, primitive and self-sufficient living. Building a campground that will host an array of programs that will expose attendees to primitive & basic survival skills and provide a safe haven for youth/mentoring/enrichment camps, as well adult/team building/organization retreats.Our interview was recorded in mid-February when the catastrophic Texas freeze had people scrambling for drinking water, food and heat. For Matthew, this disaster was a reminder of why he wants to build Blackhaven Ranch - to not be reliant on corrupt systems and fragile infrastructures to provide your basic human needs.I really appreciate Matthew’s perspective when it comes to building relationships outside of the city "Don't look at someone the way you think they are looking at you." His technique is to find common ground through conversation and not prejudge people based on appearances. We are at such a divisive and polarized time in our society and only through meaningful conversation will minds open and perspectives shift. I am so inspired by Matthew and his family's vision for Blackhaven Ranch and the tireless work they have put into making this dream a reality. To support and follow their progress you can buy a t-shirt from their online store and follow their journey on Youtube and Instagram. Please consider contributing to Matthew’s capital campaign to help build the infrastructure for Blackhaven Ranch. To contribute, visit their GOFUNDMETo see photos and read Matthew's additional interview responses by visiting the Urban Exodus Blog. 

Jun 11

1 hr 9 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Sara Buscaglia, the textile artist and quilt-maker behind Farm & Folk in La Plata County, Colorado. Sara and her partner both grew up in the suburbs - Sara in Detroit and her husband in Chicago. They met in Durango, Colorado when she was twenty years old. Sara had just dropped out of college and was trying to figure out what path in life felt right for her. Sara's family was not supportive of her decision to leave school, but living far away family and their expectations allowed her to tune into her intuition and build a life for herself that felt fulfilling.Neither Sara or her partner had any farming experience. They cut their farming teeth on land lended to them by a friend, which helped them build their local customer base and save money for their own land. Growing food in the arid and weather extremes of the high-desert wasn't easy but they learned through trial and error. After seven years of growing on borrowed land, the owner told them it was time to move on. With the spring planting season just a short time away, they rushed to find a home and land they could afford. They bought  three acres with a dilapidated house. They closed in April and the moment they got the keys they started tilling the land to plant potatoes. With three children under the age of five, the early days of building their farm was incredibly difficult and stressful. Looking back, she would never want to relive that time, but she feels so grateful for the life they have managed to build through hard work and determination over the last two decades. When not farming and homeschooling her four children, Sara is a textile artist - making plant dyed clothing and exquisite handmade quilts. Sara only started quilting in 2014, having taught herself to sew as a young mom in 2000. For Sara, quilting has become an incredible form of artistic expression. While she still sews and makes clothing, constructing and creating a quilt is multi-faceted - making something that holds meaning and sentiment, is environmentally conscious and will be passed down through generations. By listening to her intuition and learning by doing, Sara has built a fulfilling life and career on her own terms. It is not an easy life but it is a happy one. She has raised four hardworking, self-sufficient kids, a sustainable farm business and an artist practice that allows her to both be creative and also supplement their income. Sara's story reminds us that it is never too late to learn a craft or hone your artistic practice. If art calls to you and brings you joy, make time for it. Creativity is a muscle and it only gets stronger with constant exercise. Explore new techniques and don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is just a way of getting better. Follow your instincts and don’t get stuck or discouraged by comparing yourself to others. Everyone has something unique to offer and you can only tap into your own distinct voice by working at it. I encourage you to check out her Sara's website where she offers lots of instructions and tips on sewing, quilting and natural dyeing. Thank you Sara for sharing your story with us!You can follow Sara's farming and quilting journey on Instagram. 

Jun 4

49 min 1 sec

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Christi Johnson, the textile artist, designer and educator behind Mixed Color and Stitch Wish in Sullivan County, New York. Christi left Los Angeles and a career in fashion design to learn the art of plant dyes at the Textile Arts Center in New York City. While she loved the community she found in New York, she yearned to reconnect with the natural world and have more space. Christi met her boyfriend at a dance class and shortly after they started dating he invited her to a friend's event in the Catskills. The moment she arrived, she knew she never wanted to leave. Christi and her boyfriend began their permanent move to Sullivan County first by housesitting a friend's place, then moving to a trailer on a farm and eventually saving enough money to buy a home. Christi brought her business Mixed Color with her and has evolved her practice and business model to be more inclusive and serve and inspire a wider customer base. Christi started Stitch Wish to make items that were more affordable and useful to her local community and to encourage people to experiment with embroidery and sewing. She runs her business out of her home studio space and grows a lot of the plants she uses in her dye baths. Christi story reminds me that we all can be more conscious consumers when it comes to our clothing. Instead of throwing things away or donating them, breathe new life into your garments. 84% of clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators, roughly 13 million tons of clothing is dumped every year in the U.S. Get creative with your clothes - sew them, dye them, alter them, make them uniquely yours.  I encourage you to check out her online embroidery and clothing construction courses so you can feel more confident mending, making or altering your clothing. Christi's first book Mystical Stitches releasing in late June and is now available for preorder.  You can follow Christi on Instagram @stitchwish @christijay @mixed_color You can find a link to Christi’s workshops, embroidery kits and photos of her designs on our blog by visiting

May 28

1 hr 3 min

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Katrina Harvey, the passionate driving force behind of Soul Botanical Farms in Mulberry, Florida. Katrina became interested in plants after the devastating loss of her father and only sister. Following their deaths Katrina became overwhelmed by depression and anxiety. She realized that she just existed and wasn't leading a happy or fulfilling life. She went to work, came home, and went to bed - there was nothing feeding her soul. Katrina's coworker began bringing her plants and plant books as a way to connect with her. These kind gestures were the spark that started Katrina on her journey towards her life's purpose. Each plant Katrina brought home, the better she felt. She started planting flowers in her yard and then began planting her own food. It was the therapy she needed - healing mind, body and soul. Her anxiety and depression went away, she went vegetarian, and her overall health and outlook improved significantly. Spending time convening, conversing and working with plants was the medicine she needed to heal herself and find joy and passion in life again. What started as a hobby has evolved into her life’s purpose and now she is working towards building the only black-owned farm and plant nursery in her area. Katrina’s story illustrates that no matter the difficulties that life throws at you it is never too late to start over and find your peace and calling in life. Say yes to new experiences, get your hands dirty, and don’t give up on finding something that feeds your soul. I encourage you to contribute to Katrina’s capital campaign to get the infrastructure set up for Soul Botanical Farms. You can find a link to her gofundme, additional interview responses and pictures of her build out on our blog by visiting 

May 21

1 hr 14 min

Food justice is at the core of Bing D. Turner, MPH, and his wife Myisha Turner’s, entrepreneurial efforts. After a long career in public health, it was impossible to ignore the gross inequities when it came to having access to fresh, healthy food in underserved communities all over the United States. In 2009, the couple established Heritage Farmers Markets, a non-profit that hosts weekly markets in different communities in Southern California to help provide greater access to fresh, local produce direct from farmers.After visiting Myisha’s mother in Cotton Valley, Louisiana, the couple realized that the nearest grocery story was a 40-mile roundtrip away. This motivated them to spring to action and build their first grocery store. Before they got started they first did a focus group to make sure what they envisioned for Cotton Valley was inline with what the community wanted and needed. It has been an uphill climb but the Turners will soon open Bernice’s Community Market, their first community-focused grocery in Cotton Valley. This market they want to use as a template for future expansion and bring more community-focused grocery stores to underserved communities all over the country so that all people have access to fresh, healthy food without having to leave their community to get it.

May 14

54 min 4 sec

Join me for my conversation with Sherri Powell, of the mission-driven gift box company Yours Rurally. Sherri grew up in the small town of Alamo, Georgia - in the third poorest county in the United States. After college, she left Georgia for DC and worked on Capitol Hill for twelve years. From DC, she moved to New York City where she began working in the corporate world. After her daughter was born, Sherri began rethinking her career trajectory and living in the city. She wanted any time spent away from her daughter to be working towards creating positive change in the world and she wanted to raise her daughter the way she grew up - immersed in nature. Sherri and her husband purchased a weekend house in the Catskills region of Upstate New York with dreams of eventually moving there full-time. The idea for Yours Rurally came from Sherri’s desire to leave corporate America and follow her passion in advocating for rural economic development. When Covid hit, Yours Rurally was still in its infancy but has since blossomed into a fast growing small business, offering gift boxes for all occasions that feature products sourced exclusively from rurally-based businesses throughout the USA. In March, Sherri and her family moved to the Catskills full time, a shift accelerated by the pandemic. Her move has given her the space to dig in and develop ideas for other ways she can help provide more opportunity and access to rural Americans. We end our conversation with an empowering discussion about the insurrection on January 6th, about race relations and representation in rural America, and about living your values during this very divided time in

Jan 16

55 min 13 sec

Hanna Crabtree and Jesse Frost run a small organic farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. In their previous city professions, Jesse was a sommelier at a wine store in New York City and Hannah was an artist in Chicago. The couple met after they both relocated to Kentucky to learn to farm. When we featured them back in 2015, they were living in their off-grid cabin. With no running water or electricity, they really had made a dramatic shift from their previous city lives.  They had recently welcomed their son Further into the world and were making a living running an organic CSA in the tiny community of Bugtussle, Kentucky. Since then, they have moved closer to town in order to set up their farm in an area with a larger customer base. In today’s episode, we delve into the reasons why they decided a shift closer to town was right for them in the long-run, their thoughts on the whether small farm businesses can realistically support a family without off-farm jobs, relationship advice for partners making a living together, and how they have started a movement calling for no-till farming and the need for a shift to regenerative agriculture practices.

Jan 9

34 min 44 sec

Is it even possible in our age of convenience to give it all up and work towards living off the land? Homesteader, a term used nowadays to define anyone on a greater quest for self-sufficiency. Like our ancestors before us, returning to a way of life where most of what you consume you make, grow, raise, and hunt yourself. A child of original bank-to-the-landers, Kirsten Lie-Nielsen was raised on a rural homestead. But, like any rebellious teenager, she yearned for the bright lights and excitement of the city. Yet, once she got there she realized quickly that she was being beckoned back to a quieter life in Maine. This week we are joined by writer and homesteader Kirsten Lie-Nielsen of Hostile Valley Living. Kirsten and her partner Patrick spent years restoring a 200 year-old  farm that had been abandoned for 20 years. Since moving, Kirsten has written two books on homesteading. In our conversation, she discusses why she chose to raise pigs, geese, and goats, why Maine is a great state for homesteaders, and the creative ways she is piecing together a living working almost entirely off of her small farm.

Jan 2

33 min 50 sec

How do you face financial uncertainty when making the move rurally? James Ray is someone who would describe himself as extremely cautious. In the city, he worked as  a financial analyst on Wall Street, and was well-aware of the risks associated with leaving steady employment. He saved nearly everything he made for years. When James and his wife Eileen finally made the move and purchased land, James kept his city job and telecommuted to help with the start up costs associated with getting their farm business up and running. However, less than 6 months after their move, Eileen became pregnant, and the company James was working for went under, leaving him jobless in their small community. They decided to try selling the goat milk soap Eileen had made for her grandmother in the farmers market circuit and it flew off the shelves. Even with their early success, they never could have imagined that in just a few years they would build a nationally recognized organic skin and body care brand with their small herd of goats.  In our discussion, we explore some of the challenges of building a manufacturing operation in a remote area, balancing home life, and prioritizing your values when it comes to building a profitable

Dec 2020

32 min 37 sec

Richard Blanco’s poem One Today, inspired the nation at Obama’s 2013 inauguration. Richard is the first one to tell you that he is unsure if he would’ve even been able to write the poem had he not been confined to his writing desk, surrounded by pine forests, piled high with snow, up on a hill in the ski town of Bethel, Maine. He even famously practiced his poem to a snowman audience in his front yard, several weeks before he made the journey to DC. Richard Blanco has always been in search of home - the pursuit of home and what it takes to make a place feel like home are common themes in his writing. The child of Cuban exiles, and an immigrant himself, he has always longed to find a place he belongs. Since moving to the country, Richard has written the inaugural poem, numerous award-winning books, and countless occasional poems. He also teaches writing workshops all over the world. The country has given him space, both mentally and physically, to write and time to focus on where he wants his career as a working poet to take him. Until moving from Miami to Maine, Richard didn’t realize that changing  his environment would help his creative focus and energy. By pulling away from the chaos of city life, he has been able to take a step back and write work that digs to the core of the human experience. Reconnecting with the inspiration of the natural world, feeling a personal connection to place and his local community, he has been able to reach new levels in his artistic expression and creative success. In our conversation, Richard talks through some of the struggles and sacrifices he has had to make to build and maintain his creative career opportunities in a remote area. His mission in life is to expose as many people as possible to the transformative and healing power of poetry. As of late, this mission has required him to travel a large portion of the year. His home in Bethel has begun to feel more like a retreat and maybe a little less like home. It is a place to recharge his batteries, a quiet place to write and a place to spend quality time with his partner. This has changed his perspective somewhat and now he is able to fully appreciate this as his chosen home and not a place where he Although someday he hopes to have a place in a city to visit, his time in the country has solidified his need to always have a retreat in the country where he can sit quietly and work.

Dec 2020

33 min 57 sec

How far would you go to take control of your health? A battle with cancer was the catalyst that propelled Jason and Lorraine Contreras to overhaul their lives and hone in on what would truly make them happy and healthy. They quickly recognized that long commutes, little access to fresh food, and their inability to spend more time together as a family were standing in the way of living a better life. So, instead of getting discouraged - they got proactive. They downsized their expenses, left their careers, sold most of their things - and moved from suburbs outside of Los Angeles to a 1.5 acres of land in rural North Carolina. A few years after moving, they launched Sow the Land  -  A homestead business comprised of Jason’s woodworking art, Lorraine’s apothecary products, a podcast and a popular youtube channel with instructional homesteading videos to inspire and teach those looking to learn traditional skills and get a taste of daily life on a homestead. They have built a loyal audience online, which has allotted them more freedom over their time and finances.

Dec 2020

38 min 22 sec

Join me in my conversation with Thomas McCurdy and Bailey Hale of Ardelia farms. For them, the journey from urban to farm life began the day the city of Philadelphia came to confiscate their chickens from the mini-farm they had built in a small green space next to their house. While living in the city, like many of us, they had grown alarmed at the state of our food system, and decided to take initiative for their part. At first this meant establishing a small urban homestead.Without much in savings, they left the city and rented two farms in Upstate NY and worked off-farm jobs to pay the bills. Bailey's grandmother, Ardelia, left a small inheritance when she passed and that gave them the option to plant permanent roots. The only farms in New England that had what they were looking for in their price range were located way up north in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Without the means to continue farming without building a viable business, they have worked incredibly hard to figure out a way to make a living. Eventually they realized that they should return to their former career roots. Bailey, a former event florist, built a cut flower farm, and Thomas, a former pastry chef, build a baked goods business made with ingredients sourced locally and from their farm. In our conversation, Bailey and Thomas share advice for those dreaming of building a farm-based business, the difficulties they faced as a result of starting out with little capital, and their concerns for the future of farming as a whole in our changing climate.

Dec 2020

30 min 50 sec

Join us for my conversation with Mary Heffernan, a serial entrepreneur and owner of Five Marys Farms. Building a successful life in Silicon Valley might sound like a dream come true, but for Mary she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. Before moving to the country, Mary and her husband Brian owned and operated 11 small businesses in Menlo Park. But when they struggled to source ethically raised meat for their two farm-to-table restaurants, Mary, ever the entrepreneur, decided to use this as an opportunity to start a ranch of their own. I knew when I met Mary that this was a woman who would defy the odds and build a successful ranching business from scratch. Mary is tenacious, with a tireless work ethic and the unique ability to stay on track even when obstacles are put in her way. It’s been wonderful to see Five Marys Farms succeed and gain nationwide attention.  So much has changed since I visited four years ago. When putting together our first season line-up I knew Mary was someone I wanted to catch back up with. I hope you enjoy our conversation about her journey from city life to ranch life. While Mary’s values and vantage have shifted, she continues to dream up, and actualize numerous successful ventures from her rural locale.

Nov 2020

42 min 16 sec

Join us for my conversation with Sara and Rich Combs, owners and operators of the Joshua Tree House properties, about their experience starting their business after moving away from the graphic design world in San Francisco. Their love affair with the desert began in 2011, when the couple began escaping to the Mojave on the weekends. Sara and Rich found the desert landscape so surreal, that it brought out a childhood curiosity in them, and it provided their creativity with sustenance that nourished their inner well being. Their getaways to the desert inspired them to buy an investment property and renovate it using their distinctive design instincts. The home quickly became such a popular AirBnB destination that they rarely had the opportunity to stay there themselves. In early 2016, they threw caution to the wind and moved full-time to Joshua Tree. At first they weren’t sure if leaving the city would mean that their freelance design work would dry up, but they were willing to hustle even harder to make it work.  Thankfully, Sara and Rich found that their move actually presented them with more varied creative work, not less. They now own and operate a total of 3 desert retreats, all outfitted in their signature style and comfort. Incorporating their love of the outdoors and beauty of the landscape into their homes. The Joshua Tree House has become widely known in the design and hospitality worlds. Sara and Rich’s unique design sensibilities have opened the door to exciting job opportunities they would have never imagined before.

Nov 2020

45 min 22 sec

I’m excited to invite you to an insightful conversation with Stephen Carter. Stephen is a farmer at Scribe Winery, and grows the delicious farm-to-table fare for Scribe’s tasting room in the Sonoma Valley. Stephen became interested in growing while employed at the famed restaurant Chez Panisse. Working in the farm-to-table fine-dining world, Stephen discovered how high-quality ingredients transformed even the simplest meals. He relocated from San Francisco to California’s wine country to learn natural process agriculture at Green String Farm. I first met Stephen back in November of 2019. I toured his tasting room farm operation. We discussed the obstacles young farmers face, especially those without land access or start-up capital from family. These generational wealth barriers make it nearly impossible to get a farm up and running. As one of a handful of Black farmers in California’s wine country, he isn’t one to sugar coat the deep systemic issues that prevent people of color from considering a career in agriculture. Stephen wants to dispel stigmas and stereotypes and help even the playing field so that more people of color have a pathway into farming. One day, he plans to build a farm of his own, where he can continue to share his love of great food and sustainable Organizations to Support in Agriculture:Black Farmer Fundblackfarmerfund.orgA community investment fund for growers of color in New York stateSoul Fire and resources for black and indigenous farmersNative Food Alliancenativefoodalliance.orgA non profit that brings urban, rural, and tribal communities together to help enhance native foods systems, food sovereignty, and keep traditional food knowledge and power in the hands of indigenous communitiesBlack Urban Growers blackurbangrowers.orgCommunity building for urban and rural black farmers - hosts events and national networking conferences to build spaces for connection, support, and help for black farmers.Native American Agricultural Fundhttps://nativeamericanagriculturefund.orgThe largest US philanthropic effort for native farmers and ranchers

Nov 2020

25 min 56 sec