By: Christina Bailey and Mary Pope
If you’ve ever met Lis McCachren, chances are you've experienced for yourself just how genuine her presence is. Always prepared with a ready smile, Lis’ heartfelt authenticity spills over into everything she does. This is especially apparent in the beautiful homestead she has created with her family.
In just a few years, on just a few acres, Lis and her partner Philip have built themselves a thriving homestead on their property in Sugar Grove, NC. Their homestead is a diverse operation. In addition to their two sweet youngsters Malcolm (4) and Eve (1), Lis and Philip raise 7 goats, 11 ducks, and seasonal hogs, as well as a veggie garden, fruit trees, and berry bushes.
“The goal is self-sufficiency, and knowing the skills of how to do it,” says Lis. “The survivalist in me really feels like we need to know how to grow our own food in this day and age. It’s something I want to pass on to my kids.” She adds that being in such close contact to the food she’s putting into her and her family’s bodies makes her feel “like a whole human being.”
Like many here in the High Country, Lis first moved to Boone, NC in order to attend Appalachian State University. The university as well the community around her led Lis to a period in her life in which she says she “become more aware.” Much of this awareness focused on the food she was using to fuel her body and where it was actually coming from. As she began to question and learn more about modern industrial food systems, she adopted a vegetarian diet for some time. Also during these first years in Boone, Lis began studying the ancient path of yoga, and spent time traveling through India with Philip. Although all of these experiences led her towards becoming a more connected and conscious individual, there’s one experience she credits as more influential than the rest: becoming a mother.
Lis attributes her inspiration for the lifestyle she’s living today most fully to the birth of her son Malcolm. "Almost immediately after he was born, I was like ‘we have to be raising our food!’ That was the seed, when I became a mom.” She wanted her family to be connected to their food, and to have the best nutrition possible, and as she wisely posits: “The best is what I raise myself.”
In addition to her son, Lis honors her friend and mentor Holly Whitesides of Against The Grain Farm as an inspiration. She says admiringly that she likes "to look at Holly’s hands and think about all of the things that her hands do in one day.” She muses on how interesting it is that so many women are farming and homesteading in the High Country community. “These women are who I look up to. I connect with them and they have a powerful presence in our community.”
These days Lis is working part time as a doula and a yoga teacher within the local community, as well as enjoying the day to day work of raising her children and running a homestead. She says “growing my own food is part of being at home with my kids. It’s woven into the fabric of being a parent for me right now.” She spends her days milking goats, cleaning animal stalls, canning food, cooking, gardening, teaching her children and being a role model and a source of wisdom to those around her.
“The best part is on a Sunday, when I can step back and not see the weeds and the worry and all of the things that are not working out…but be at home and see the land, eat three meals a day that all came from our home, and just be in that space of our homestead, and really feel like ‘this is so beautiful, I love my life!’ Those moments are when I can really see how good it is.”
In addition to cultivating this life for her family, Lis sees the bigger picture of how this kind of lifestyle affects the larger world. She would like to see more community education on growing and harvesting your own food, and more effort put towards bridging the gap between the old-time established farmers and the new farmers just starting out in our region and beyond. “We all live here together, and we all have to work together, live in the same place. If people are hurting, or unhealthy, or ignorant even…it affects our whole culture.”
Lis culminates her musings on this lifestyle by saying, “The purpose is to connect more with our food and enhance our health. Our bodies are our vessels for our whole experience of life. Knowing the skill set to be able to do that feels like a very natural part of being a human being now that I’ve opened that can of worms.”
Her words to anyone considering the homesteading life: “Just do it. If it’s really in your heart, you should just go for it! Life is always going to be full and crazy, but if it’s something you really want to be part of your life, you just have to do it!"
BRWIA PROFILE PROJECT
Each month we do our best to profile a Woman in Agriculture in our region. These women are diverse - they have come from a variety of backgrounds and include farmers, homesteaders, and activists. They exemplify the multitude of ways women are working to connect with and change our food system.
Female Farmer Profile Project
The BRWIA Profiles evolved out of the Female Farmer Profiles which can be found archived HERE.