Finding Healing in Homesteading

Staff Writer Helen Phillips

June 6, 2024

For those burdened by the weight of war’s aftermath, the simplicity of homesteading offers respite from the complexities of modern life. Warrior Bonfire’s #191 experience for caregivers/spouses of combat-wounded veterans introduced and educated the participants on various techniques from the art of starting seeds, foraging, making soaps, and caring for farm animals to indulging in a farm-to-table dinner, every moment was a delight for the senses. 

Homesteading used as a coping mechanism provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment that the attendees intend to take home and share. The desire is to start a journey at home with their veterans. Each seed planted becomes a symbol of hope, each crop harvested a testament to resilience. In the sanctuary of rural life, the cacophony of combat and it’s lasting stress gradually fades into the background, replaced by the gentle symphony of birdsong and rustling leaves. The therapeutic benefits of nature are well-documented, offering a balm to wounded spirits and troubled minds. Whether it’s the act of caring for livestock, building fences, or simply sitting beneath a canopy of stars, each moment spent in communion with the land offers a step towards healing. Moreover, homesteading fosters a sense of community and connection, both vital components in the journey towards recovery. 

For spouses, particularly those who bear witness to the invisible wounds of war, homesteading offers a means of reclaiming agency and autonomy. In the act of nurturing life, they rediscover their own strength and resilience, forging a path toward healing alongside their loved ones. In essence, homesteading serves as more than just a means of sustenance; it becomes a sanctuary for the wounded soul, a refuge from the storms of the mind. At the Warrior Bonfire Program, we recognize the transformative power of homesteading in the journey toward healing. Through the support and resources, provided by our volunteers, we cultivate hope, fostering a future filled with promise and possibility.

Huge thanks to our hosts and board members Renee Chapman and Kathy Steuber, along with the following local community volunteers, Glenna B Grant and Jessica K L Maddox for their homemade bread and pickled quail eggs, Tammy Beal, Karen Quave Darring, and Woerner Farms for the amazing farm and garden swag bags, desserts from Stacy Martin Hadley and refreshing Kombucha from Candice Gray-Slone. Natasha Freeman’s insights from Bee-Lightful Botanicals on herbs and medicinal tinctures were truly enlightening, and Karen Quave Darring’s canning lesson on homemade peach jam! Donna Barlass led us through farm yoga with adorable goats, and we explored the fascinating world of off-grid living at Solace Farm with Doug and Wendy Underhill. Solar power, rabbit keeping, and medicinal gardens were also among the learned topics. To top it all off, Sunday evening’s BBQ featuring farm-raised smoked rabbits from Jamie Hullenbaugh was the perfect conclusion to an unforgettable weekend. Thank you to everyone who made this retreat so special.