Nestled between the majestic Okanogan National Forest and North Cascades National Park is the town of Twisp in the Evergreen State. Twisp, Washington is home to rural farmers Derek, Nicole, and their daughter Cymone.
Nicole is also an artist, silversmith, and maker of many beautiful and unique treasures. With an eye and talent for showcasing nature’s beauty, Nicole creates one-of-a-kind jewelry. In some pieces you can find smooth river rocks she has hollowed out. In others, you will find familiar items, items you may never have imagined could be incorporated into a necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings. At the center of one necklace, Nicole placed discarded bits of soda bottles (tumbled and turned into beads); in another, recycled stop light glass takes on a new form as a pendant.
A Rural Farm Story
Today’s story is best read while sipping a cup of fresh apple cider, tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. To the left is a visual to wake up your taste buds. Nicole sent us this photo of apples for cider. Gathering together to make apple cider is a fun activity that creates memories to be cherished for years to come. Nothing beats a hot cup of cider made from the very apples you harvested, pressed, and bottled up for enjoyment throughout autumn and winter.
Nicole, can you tell our community a little more about the town of Twisp? Is it in the same area where you and Derek grew up?
We live in Twisp, WA, in the North Cascades. Twisp is a town of approximately 1,500 year-round residents, located in the heart of the Methow Valley. My husband, 10 year old daughter and I moved to the Methow 6 years ago, and we plan to be here at least until she graduates from high school.
I was born on the East Coast, and grew up primarily in Switzerland and France. My husband grew up in Indiana. After living in Niger, West Africa, my husband and I were inspired to live in a remote location and maintain a low-impact foot print. We are delighted to have found the Methow.
In a nutshell, what is the story behind your family’s farm? And, when did life as a farmer begin for you?
I grew up in a no-waste household. My father wasn’t able to eat sugar or processed food, so our alternative to white flour and chocolate was whole wheat and carob. In the US, my mother always had a large garden. While living in Europe, our weekly ritual was to visit the vibrant farmer’s market. My passion for healthy food and sustainable living started there.
Derek and I moved to the Methow Valley in 2006. We were eager to live close to the land. Here, we are surrounded by a community that is passionate about simple, sustainable living. Few of our children watch TV, and most know where there food comes from.
In 2007 we put ourselves on a 100-mile diet. As a result, we forced ourselves to make deliberate choices about everything that we consumed. The diet kick-started our own farming excursion, which includes chickens, rabbits, a large vegetable and herb garden, bees, pig, and a horse.
What do you grow and raise? What is the approximate size of your family’s “farming” space?
[To the right is Cymone on her horse (Feather). After 4 years of selling eggs at the local farmers’ market, Cymone had saved enough money to buy her own horse.]
What (or who) influenced you to become a farmer?
We have always sought to be a low-impact family. We compost as much as we can, and we collect food waste from local restaurants for our animals. Our choice to farm is an extension of our overall lifestyle choice.
If I were to choose an inspiration – my parents.
What do you love most about being a farmer (i.e, growing food, raising farm animals, or keeping bees)?
We love the satisfaction of knowing where our food comes from…and every little thing that went into growing the food, from the compost, to the seed, to the fertilizer. We also love seeing our own child’s eyes widen as she holds a newborn rabbit, pulls a tomato horn worm off a plant, or when our bees swarm and her father climbs a tree to catch them.
Simply imagine sitting at your dining room table, giving thanks to the Earth for blessing you with every ingredient in the meal you’re about to eat. It’s an incredible accomplishment!
What products do you currently offer?
Our products include:
Lip balm & organic salves (made from our beeswax, herbs, and native plants)
I am also an artist, so create jewelry that incorporates natural and recycled objects. Most of my jewelry contains rocks that I’ve collected from the Methow River.
River Rock Earrings with hammered sterling silver and copper wire
What do you enjoy most about creating (or growing) these products to offer to others?
Creating quality products and jewelry brings me an enormous amount of satisfaction. I would create all day, every day if I could. I am a very passionate person who needs to keep my fingers busy – constantly. I am told that I simply cannot relax (although I would argue that creativity is my relaxation).
We encourage others to embrace time-honored traditions, old-fashioned skills and also celebrate the modern arts and contemporary craft movement. What arts, crafts, skills and traditions do you enjoy practicing (or teaching) today or aspire to learn?
I love working with natural materials – rocks in particular. I spend hours drilling through small rocks to create one-of-a-kind jewelry. I have recently returned to silversmith work, a skill that I learned in college. So, I’ve been shaping and soldering silver to frame the rocks I’ve collected.
Over the past six months my sales have increased. I am now featured by six different galleries and destination lodges in Washington. I aspire to expand upon my sales so that my art business is self-supporting.
Do you currently offer any classes or workshops at your farm or another location?
Yes, I am teaching two classes in November and December at Confluence Gallery & Art Center. Classes include bath salts & sugar scrubs, and mosaic mandalas. In addition, my blog offers many free tutorials and recipes.
—Nicole Ringgold of Live In Art
On behalf of the community of farmers and friends, thank you Nicole for taking time to share your family’s farm story and beautiful creations with us! We support your efforts to preserve the farm spirit and so many time-honored traditions we hold close to our hearts. We hope to see your wares on our website in 2013!