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Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont


Updated: Aug 3, 2021

Years ago I heard a story from our pastor, Dr. Timothy Keller, that completely astonished me. When his wife Kathy was 12 years old, she wrote to C.S. Lewis . . . And he wrote her back.

11th November 1963

Dear Kathy,

Thanks for your note of the 5th, and I hope you will enjoy the Screwtape Letters which has been the most popular of all my books.

I sympathize with your “maddening experience”, but I can assure you that this is one of the occupational risks of authorship; the same sort of thing has happened to me more than once. There is nothing to be done about it!

With all best wishes,

yours sincerely,

C.S. Lewis

They continued to write back and forth four times. The last letter she received from him was 11 days before he died. The part that most astonished me was not that he wrote her back, but that she had thought to write him in the first place. His writings had so moved her that she wanted to form a connection with the writer.

If I had been alive during the time his Narnia books were first published, would I have written to him? It’s doubtful. Most likely fear, self-doubt, and laziness would have contributed to me missing out on a remarkable opportunity. This got me thinking . . . Who are the present-day authors or illustrators inspiring us? Who could we write to encourage and praise, so we do not miss out on an opportunity to make a connection?

Our primary objective in writing to our favorites was not only to get a response - even though that would be a hopeful outcome - we also wrote to praise and to encourage them, to tell them how much we loved their work, and what it meant to us personally. A few times we asked thoughtful questions about the writing and illustrating process to seek help with our own writing and illustrating. We also chose our favorite authors and illustrators that were lesser known, thinking we may have a better opportunity to connect with someone that may not already be inundated with letters.

We have been on this journey for six years, writing letters to authors and illustrators, many of whom have written us back. In fact, my oldest daughter has her very own “C.S. Lewis pen pal”. Such a delightful outcome. They have exchanged lovely ideas about the writing and illustrating process. Though sharing ideas with her pen pal has helped my daughter with her own efforts, the best outcome has been the personal connection she has been able to make with one of her favorite authors.

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  • Sarah Fremont

We had moved to a new town in a new state. We left our home, friends, and family for work opportunities. I was hoping it would be temporary - Texas was so foreign compared to our cozy, familiar place in Minnesota. When I met other homeschool mothers at the park, and they asked for my phone number, I thought, “Why? I’m only here for a short while. No need to put down roots and make connections here!” But a year went by, and then another. It seemed like we were actually going to live in Texas ... I looked around at our homeschool rhythms, and I was not satisfied. I had not created the environment I desired because this was not where I had wanted to be.

I firmly believe in the power of handwritten goals. In fact, my husband and I have always written our goals for the year, taped them to our fridge, and worked to accomplish them. Seeing our goals in written form, on a daily basis, keep us focused, excited and motivated. However, my goals, dreams, and desires for the rhythms of homeschool were much too visual to capture in a simple, textual, bullet-pointed goal list. The process my husband and I used of setting up goals needed to be expanded upon. To motivate the change I wanted, I decided to make a collection of the inspiring photos offline. Thus the idea of a vision board was born.

I was incredibly inspired by the images of homeschool families who spent their days gardening, handling chickens and goats, and had spaces in their homes for displaying a plethora of nature collections. These were the pictures I wanted to move from my imagination to reality. So, the first step was to begin gathering photographs. I cut out images from magazines, such as Taproot and Modern Farmer, and printed pictures from the internet. Armed with this stack of motivating photos, I formed a collage of them on a piece of cardboard. After the vision board was completed, it found its place in the heart of our home, the kitchen, for all to see. The concrete examples on display of the homeschool life I desired motivated me to finally take ownership of our vision here in Texas. There, on our board, were images of people gardening, chickens, dogs, goats, kids climbing trees, and nature collections. This vision board represented goals for our home life and my children’s homeschool days, and opened fundamental questions such as where does one get chickens? Where will we cultivate our garden? Where should we designate a nature display? These questions lead us to explore, to find the answers, and to put our visions from the board into action. Having a physical image board that all family members could see numerous times throughout the day - instead of hidden away on a screen - created enthusiasm and an emotional connection to what the future could be.

It’s been two years now, and most of the original goals have been met, a few are still in progress, (the goats will be kidding this spring), and some desires have changed. We keep the vision board in our garage now. It has been great fun to show friends and neighbors how far we’ve come in our journey to our goals. Seeing our vision board come to life in the rhythms of our homeschool days has inspired many folks to create a vision board of their own.

Do you have changes you desire for your daily homeschool rhythm? Perhaps a vision board could help motivate you to achieve those goals as it did for my husband, my children and me.

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  • Sarah Fremont

We inherited our homestead garden at the end of winter. It was a mess—weeds run amok, pathways deteriorated, and nary an edible vegetable in sight. But then the beginning of spring came, and in the far reaches of the garden, spears of asparagus began peeking through the soil. We were excited to see food in our garden grown by the previous owner. None of the asparagus even reached our kitchen. It was first come, first served. As soon as you saw an asparagus shoot, you snapped it off and ate the crispy, buttery goodness right there in the garden. Nothing tastes as good as fresh grown asparagus, eaten outside in the middle of the garden. We became absolutely obsessed and determined to add as many asparagus plants to the garden as we could during the next planting season.

Asparagus is a perennial vegetable and will come back year after year in your garden. If well taken care of, garden asparagus can continue to produce in your garden for over 20 years! In the off-season, the wispy fronds of the asparagus plant add a lovely backdrop.

Although asparagus is a perennial vegetable, it initially requires patience because it takes three years for the asparagus plant to produce edible shoots. So now is the time to get started!

Tips for growing asparagus:

  1. Asparagus can be grown from seed, crown, or plant. We have found that a started asparagus plant, planted in early spring, is the easiest way to establish the garden bed.

  2. The asparagus will be in your garden for a long time, so the planting site must be thoughtfully considered. Ours has an entire dedicated garden bed at the very edge of the garden. The tall wisps add visual interest at the border, long after the harvest season has ended.

  3. Asparagus plants need full sun, healthy soil, and regular watering.

  4. Keep the bed free from weeds so the asparagus is not competing for food.

  5. Every year, at the very beginning of spring, we dress the top of the garden bed with a layer of nutrient rich compost.

Fresh asparagus from the garden is the tastiest thing. It is well worth the wait for the first harvest. Start your asparagus garden bed now and you will enjoy tender, delectable asparagus for years to come.

Happy planting! xo

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