Women’s Herstory Month: Atina Diffley

So, I’m part of this amazing Facebook group: the Radical Effing Feminists(REF). Yeah, it sounds angry; that’s because we recognize there is crap to be angry about like the prevalence of sexual violence, pay inequality, and quite a bit more. At the same time REF is about creating a positive environment for learning more about ourselves/feminism/etc, supporting each other in trying to foster more equity, and really honoring those women (and men) who’ve brought us closer to equality in even more trying times.

This month is Women’s Herstory Month. Yep, I said herstory. Get over it. Some of the group members are writing about amazing women who’ve made a change in different arenas of society. I wanted to choose women who were from today and from the past, a women who was very local and some who were international, and women who made changes in not all the same arenas. For today’s post, I chose Atina Diffley.


Atina Difleyimgres-1

I wanted to write about Atina, because she’s local and she has directly inspired me. I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in a class she led. Her passion about farming, about the local farming movement, and about life is truly motivational. Although, I do not want to farm on the scale that she and her partner, Martin Diffley did, I truly respect what they’ve done.

I don’t know her whole story, and I haven’t even had a chance to read her new book, “Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works” (2012). What I do know is this, she joined Martin’s family farm in the Eagan, MN area in 1985. During that time, Eagan was not what it is today. There was much more farmland. In 1989, suburban development came through and made farming impossible for the Diffley’s, and they eventually lost their farm like so many farmers to the suburbs.

Eminent Domain is the “the power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property” (thanks Wikipedia.org). This was used in this first battle for the Diffley’s and they faced it again in 2006 when those wonderful Koch brothers (insert extreme sarcasm) wanted to run a crude oil pipeline through their farm. Atina fought tooth and nail, and this battle is chronicled in “Turn Here Sweet Corn”. With the help of their lawyer, Paula Maccabee (another local female leader and amazing lawyer), citizen letters, and expert input, they were able to establish an Organic Mitigation Plan, a case study to help organic farms in protecting their farm land from energy infrastructure “upgrades”. They also were able to keep their land.

Furthermore, she helped to establish an organic farm during a time when that wasn’t as popular as it is today. Last year, I was part of the Land Stewardship Project‘s Farm beginning program, where Atina taught a few of the classes. It is the dedication of Atina and other farmers to growing organically that allows us to eat the local, healthy, and organic food that we eat today. We must not forget the markets they established, the intensive labor put in to REAL farming, and that they did it without the subsidies that the majority of land degrading agriculture receives. Furthermore Atina and others, not only focused on developing HER farm, but also the sustainable farming movement. When farmers like Atina, face a David and Goliath legal battle with extremely large entities like the Koch brothers, and win, it establishes a precedence that could help other farmers that face other Eminent Domain challenges. Currently, Cedar Summit Farm, an organic dairy around for 30+ years is facing a similar situation. Click on this change.org to help by signing their petition to the MN House Energy Policy Committee.

In 2008, Atina and Martin sold their Gardens of Eagan farm to the Wedge Co-op. She released her book, and teaches a myriad of classes helping new organic farmers be sustainable in their practices and lives.

I am forever thankful of the path that Atina and other sustainable farmers have created for us as farmers. This movement is a revolution in itself and is true homeland security (more on this later).

Thank you. I’ll be posting an update to my simplifying challenge soon!

Seeking the simple life, time to begin.

So, I’m giving another shot to this whole blog process for a number of reasons. First off, I want to be a better writer. You write in college and in school, and your writing gets judged, edited, you move forward. I’ve always been in advanced writing classes, but I feel like my creative writing has never been pushed and satisfied. My Dad wouldn’t say this, but somehow being categorized as smart and funny as kid (my brother was the artistic and sporty one) kind of kept me focused on those two aspects of myself. I have friends that are extremely creative and would love to allow myself to be so too. 

The other reason why I want to start writing again is that I’ve been doing tons of research on topics like minimalism, toxic free living, intentional communities, self-sufficiency, conflict resolution, anti-racism, feminism, and so much more. Sometimes, the answers to the questions I pose are easy to find, but so many times I can only find snippets of an answer. 

Take this weekends research question as an example: 


How do I organize and minimize my paper and my mementos (photo’s, news clippings, awards) to have only what’s essential? 

I go to some sites, and they are more of your Martha Steward types that want you to keep everything, have big houses where you store your crap you don’t use, and wear mom jeans. It’s not de-cluttering if you just keep crap. A lot of the minimalist sites, don’t necessarily mention what to do with these items either. How do you go through all of the pictures and keep what’s necessary? My goal is to be able to be mobile with what I have. If I have mementos and pictures, I want them to add to my life. If I’m taking pictures of my family, of kids, how can I capture the pictures so they can look at them in the future? Do the people who live in Tiny Houses, and who supposedly have more expansive lives because of their living situation, have a closet full of scrapbooks?

I want to answer some of these questions, and document my process for those who are interested in living a more minimalist lifestyle. I also want to share what works well from me, what interesting research I’ve found, and more. Last, I’d love to connect with others who are interested in deeper and more simple living, so that we can learn from each other, and support one another. 

I’m going to go room by room, clutter zone by clutter zone and share the craziness with you. I know there are others out there who also have this level of clutter, so let’s connect! Here will be my process:

Weeks 1 & 2: Paper (important documents, research, magazines) 

Weeks 3 & 4: Mementos (Paper, old letters, tickets, etc) 

My goals : 

  • Non-toxic/ Environmentally friendly solutions (including minimizing most uses of plastic)
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
  • End goal of items that are kept, are useful, organized, and easy to maintain

More goals may be added or described in more detail as I get knee- deep in the process. But it’s always good to start somewhere. 

Hello Blog World!

So, I’ve decided to continue to jump on the social media bandwagon. I know, it’s overwhelming, it’s everywhere, and it’s seemingly invades your free time and privacy. Suddenly, your Dad and other family members are now your friends on Facebook and you have to censor yourself.

Nonetheless, I see a lot of great reasons to begin a blog. I’m meeting the most amazing people that are doing great local activist work. I want to share their stories. I’m going to amazing conventions, seminars, workshops, etc, and I want to share how great some of those are as well. I also just want to post funny pictures of my dog, and think that everyone wants to look at them.

I hope that this blog is interesting to other people and fruitful for me.