Monday, February 12, 2018

Interview with writer Elvira Di'Brigit

My special guest today is Elvira Di'Brigit. She’s sharing some details about her new non-fiction book, Why We Farm: Farmers' Stories of Growing Our Food and Sustaining Their Business.

In 2000, Elvira moved her family to Capay Valley, where her passionate interest in sustainable living took hold. While teaching she explored curricula surrounding farming, environmental preservation and nutrition - all in support of sustainable living. She is the editor of and the author of Why We Farm.

Elvira holds a BA in international relations from UC Davis, a teaching credential and a Waldorf/Steiner Teaching Certificate. She lives in Rumsey, CA with her husband and 3 children, and tends a ten-year-old organic olive grove at Gettleshtetl Gardens, where she and her husband also grow walnuts, over thirty types of fruit, and many vegetables.

Welcome, Elvira. Please tell us about your current release.
Why We Farm is an easily accessible book of interviews that features fifteen farmers, each with different agricultural methods and business models. In these interviews, farmers share the stories behind their work and their lives on the farm; the business side of production, the personal challenges they face, and words of advice for the would-be-farmer.

What inspired you to write this book?
I am passionate about healthy living, which is why I moved up to the country almost twenty years ago. Getting to know my farming neighbors, I became very impressed with how hard they worked, just to get food to other people’s tables, and I wondered if it was really worth it. I wanted to know if they felt fulfilled and if their farming businesses were making financial sense. As I started interviewing farmers, I realized that there is so much behind the scenes of farming life that even conscientious customers don’t hear about. And all this matters because in order to have a vibrant local food movement – in order to have food security and diversity – we as consumers need to understand the ins and outs of the food industry. This book highlights the plight of the small-scale farmer.

As Craig McNamara writes in the foreword; “This little valley can be likened to many agricultural regions of the United States, it’s history can be seen as a microcosm of agricultural development around the country. If we can take the lessons learned here into the future, we will be going in the right direction.”

What exciting story are you working on next? 
I am working on blog stories to further expand on Why We Farm – such as upcoming blogs about the sustainable fashion industry.

I’m also considering writing a book about homeschooling, which is another passion of mine.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 
I wanted to be a writer for most of my life, but it wasn’t until my late thirties, when I had big life changes of divorce, career loss, etc, that I decided I was going to get serious about being a writer. I started researching how to get published, and I sent in some submissions. It didn’t last. But then a few years later the idea for this book hit me, and I just had to take it up. Some artists talk about the muse taking hold of them. For me, the Capay Valley became my muse, and I knew if I didn’t write this book now, then it would be too late. So I made a plan, and I got help (a life coach), and I wrote the book.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I teach and I’m a mom and a farmer’s wife, so writing only gets my left-over hours. I write in the morning on weekends, or late at night. Or I say no to social engagements.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if I have a quirk, but I will say that I’ve tried using my iphone to collect thoughts. The notes app on my phone has a lot of random thoughts.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Of course I went through stages: writer, teacher, model, actress. I’ve done a few of those, so I guess it’s been a good life.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Whatever inspiration takes hold of you, know that it will be a lot of work, a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes I hated this book writing project, other times I loved it. But I was wedded to the idea after I started.


Thanks for being here today, Elvira!

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