Sarah Graham is an educator, yoga teacher, herbalist, beekeeper, and gardening enthusiast. She owns SHAMBA Farm which is an acronym for Sustainable Homestead and Microclimate Based Agriculture. Her kitchen is the creative heart of her home. She sells her handmade herbal medicine, salves, eggs, honey, and fresh herbs at the Elgin Farmers’ Market, her website, and at various pop up markets in Elgin.
Sarah lives on her farm in a straw bale home (which she built herself) with her adorable daughters, some goats, chickens, and working dogs.
1. Why did you move to Elgin?
I had been looking at houses in Austin, and realized that I wanted more space. On the drive out to Elgin, I thought “this is 10 minutes too far”. But the moment I set foot on my land, I knew I had found my place. I bought it a couple of months later, built a house, and moved out here in August of 2009. I moved here for the small town feel and beautiful views. Elgin’s history is rooted in agriculture, and I wanted to be a part of the sustainable agriculture movement blossoming here. I had a gut feeling that I would find a community, and the one that I’ve found is more beautiful and supportive than I could have ever imagined.
2. What compels you to spend time creating?
As a new mom, I was too exhausted to create, but as my daughter got older and she started coloring and painting, I realized how much fun it was to spend time making messes with her. I saw the value in creativity, and allowed myself to spend time creating and experimenting in the kitchen. During my divorce, I found that growing plants and using them in the kitchen for food and bath products gave me much needed creative expression. I’ve always dabbled in various crafts, such as sewing and beading, but the kitchen is my main creative space. It’s the heart of any home, and for me cooking and canning combine my background in science with a love of plants and fresh, flavorful food. Experimenting with new recipes for herbal concoctions keeps things exciting and my creativity fueled. I’m always growing new plants, so I get to try new ways of extracting their flavors and medicinal qualities. It helps me cultivate a deeper relationship with nature and an intimacy with my land, which is my ultimate goal.
3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.
1. We are human beings, not human doings. In other words, do less, and be more. Cultivating quiet space helps ideas and inspiration to flow.
2. Mistakes are learning opportunities. How can we learn if we don’t fail? Failure is an essential part of growth.
3. I honor my boundaries by truly considering opportunities before I say “yes” or no”. This allows me to fully commit to my obligations and not overload myself. It helps me avoid over-commitment.
4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?
I’ve been experimenting with soy candles lately which has been great fun! I’m planning for the new things I will grow in the spring and for my 50 fruit trees arriving this winter. I’ve got a couple of fun ideas to change up my market stand using materials found on my land. I always have more ideas than time! I recently listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast and it was incredibly inspirational. She’s all about cultivating creativity. Also, I am re-watching Game of Thrones (thanks COVID!). I find the fantasy so compelling, as it’s the creation of an entire world and really whisks me away.
5. Cake or Pie?
BOTH! Cake for birthdays, pies for holidays.Pie, because pie is love. And it goes better with vintage country music.