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Out & About: Colby-Sawyer educator to discuss memoir on farm life

  • "Farm Girl: A Memoir" by Megan Baxter is available now.

  • Megan Baxter is a Hanover High School graduate who recently wrote "Farm Girl: A Memoir" about her time working at Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center in East Thetford.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/4/2021 8:58:01 PM
Modified: 5/4/2021 8:58:00 PM

EAST THETFORD — In 2008, as the United States was reeling from an economic recession, Megan Baxter had a decision to make.

A Hanover High School graduate, Baxter was attending college in Portland, Ore., but was dreaming of her summers spent working at Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center in East Thetford. She was also in the tail end of a complicated and difficult relationship with a partner who had an opioid addiction.

“The year was really crucial for me because it was also the end of a very crucial relationship that had kind of defined me,” Baxter said. “I was trying to figure out who I was not in relation to someone else.”

Baxter ended up leaving college and returning to work at Cedar Circle Farm, where she stayed until 2016, when she left for a creative writing program. She began writing about that crucial year in her life, turning those memories into a book that became Farm Girl: A Memoir, which was published last month.

Baxter will discuss Farm Girl at 6 p.m. Thursday during a virtual event hosted by the Norwich Bookstore, where she will be joined by Honey Field Farm co-owner Valerie Woodhouse. People can email virtual22@norwichbookstore.com for a link to the program.

Baxter, who now lives in Sunapee, teaches at Colby-Sawyer College and works at Honey Field Farm. The book started as a collection of essays and poems about her time working at the farm. When she shared them with her writing workshop in South Carolina, her peers encouraged her to turn them into a book, which she did during her first year. It took six full rewrites to get it to its final form.

“One of the biggest decisions I had to make was the time frame,” Baxter said. “I decided to just narrow it down (to) over that crucial year when I decided to make it my livelihood.”

In Farm Girl, Baxter goes back and forth between the months in Portland when she was contemplating returning to Cedar Circle and then what it was like on the farm once she got there.

“I am a perfectionist, so it was hard for me to admit that things were not in a good place for me,” Baxter said. “It was a challenging year and I wish in the moment I learned something. I think I learned a lot more writing the book and looking back and seeing the choices I made as a young woman.”

That year taught her that it was OK to ask for help. She learned to “create my own vision of my identity instead of trying to fit into the molds of growing up in the Upper Valley, the expectations that my family had for me,” Baxter said. She started to think more about finding her own place, her own community and how she could contribute to both.

She details the labor that goes into growing food and the impact it had on her.

“I hope that it opens people’s eyes about the work that goes into making their food and inspires them to support local farmers in their communities,” Baxter said. “I hope that the book is read by a large audience. I think that it appeals to people who are trying to feel confident in the choices that they’re making in terms of their identity or making a decision that may seem contrary to the culture that they grew up in.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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