Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Terra Fructi

Although this must be considered old news, I feel compelled to write a brief summary of our revised farming plans. After spending a short time in the Central Connecticut River Valley, Liz and I have noticed an obvious lack of locally produced mushrooms in the region. There are two mushroom farms that we know of in this area—one in Chester, VT and the other in Keene, NH—thought neither of them could possibly be meeting demand. is with great excitement and mild anxiety that I announce the establishment of our mushroom farm:

For the Latin-challenged, this means "fruits of the earth." We took some liberty with the construction of the name—it's not an entirely accurate Latin equivalent, but after days of brainstorming, we concluded that it was close enough for us. Liz designed the logo, with a little help from our friend Ellen back in Pittsburgh.

We have registered the business with the feds and the state of New Hampshire, hired a consultant, secured a warehouse space for growing, purchased the majority of our supplies and equipment, and started work on construction of our grow room and incubation room, among other seemingly endless tasks.

Both the Hannah Grimes Center and NH Small Business Development Center have been incredibly helpful with our start-up. We've attended numerous free seminars and workshops at Hannah Grimes and the SBDC has connected us with a business class at Franklin Pierce University that is using Terra Fructi as a case study and developing a variety of useful tools for us, including a marketing plan, website design, and help with financial projections. We are sincerely grateful for all of the support we've gotten from friends, business contacts, and the community at large.

If you want to learn more about Terra Fructi, please visit our website (which is under construction). We welcome feedback from anyone who cares to give it—so keep in touch!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Closing (In)

Our last physical ties to Pittsburgh will become history this Wednesday, when Liz and I close on our Lawrenceville house. Though we will never meet, I wish the new owner, Elliot Porter, luck and happiness on 45th Street. It will be relieving to relinquish ownership over the property since the last few months have been stressful, due to problems that arose during the home inspection. Yet, this sense of relief will be coupled with sadness as this chapter of my life comes to an end. Pittsburgh was my home for a decade and part of me still resides there amid the bad air, rowdy yinzers, and lifelong friends.

I haven't missed the city much since we moved, but I was talking with Dan on the phone yesterday and I experienced an intense longing to be back in the 'burgh—most likely a result of listening to the ridiculous accounts of mayhem committed by my delinquent friends. The part of my psyche that suffers from arrested development wrestled with my heart as Dan unloaded story after hilarious story of unbridled wassailing. (Note: this commentary is not intended to sully the reputation of my good friend, Dan, who happens to work in a bar and is therefore privy to unbelievable amounts of hilarity.) I could feel Pittsburgh pulling me back until I considered some of the reasons we opted out: the city's lifetime residents and their intense resistance to change; the fast pace of life; the noise and pollution; the time spent in traffic; the cityscape that offers virtually no connection to the natural world.

Alas, I am not in Pittsburgh and will likely not visit for some time, considering the severity of New England winters and my inability to escape my job. And, of course, life naturally pulls us beyond partying and forces us to mature and accept responsibility. This brief transitional period allows me to reflect on the ebb and flow of my own life, with gratitude for both past experiences and future endeavors.

Liz and I have been looking at houses in VT, hoping to find a deal while the real estate market languishes. We spent four long days driving around the countryside, searching for our next home, and have concluded that we should suspend our search until next year. The money we spent on our lovely home in Pittsburgh will not go nearly as far in this part of the country. We've determined that our spending limit will afford us either a small house in great condition or a large house in terrible condition. Unfortunately, neither of these options will work for us, as we intend to start a small business from our home, wherever that may be.

The past is over. The future is uncertain. The present is now. I feel a definite sense of positivity and possibility as Liz and I wade through life together. We will celebrate our closing on Wednesday evening with the friends we've made in VT, toasting an era gone by and a fresh start.

Here's to you, Elliot Porter.