Tessa McDonald: The Five Question Interview

Tessa McDonald hails from the great state of Alaska. After serving in the U.S. Army she relocated to Texas. She owns and lives on Green Woman Farm amid an edible forest she is cultivating with her husband. With the aid of their sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, guineas, and turkeys they are regenerating the land without pesticides. Tessa’s interest in studying best practices in harvesting and preserving herbs led her to create hand rolled Incense, blended herbal teas, herbal extracts, and dried herbs grown on the farm. 

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I found my love for gardening quickly outgrew my backyard and wanted to start a farm with an lots of animals and an edible forest. I fell in love with Elgin’s downtown and how close knit everyone was like back home. After we settled, we quickly noticed we made the right choice with our community and don’t plan on ever leaving.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

The need to discover is what got me on my journey of gardening, herbal remedies, & tea brewing. Many people don’t know how much one herb can help with so many problems, so I started to explore this and the many methods of preservation. I wanted to be able to take a small seed, and make that plant into natural cleaning supplies, dried herbs, soaps, extracts, anything my imagination could make. I take time to study, fertilize, and grow my plants. I put them to good use, and surprise myself a lot with the things I make and what can survive here.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

I think my biggest lesson is learning when to stop. Farming is a nonstop job, but the need to slow down and rest is also just as important.

My second thing would be stuff doesn’t happen on my time. Mother nature will send us winter storms, spring hail, and sometimes drought and we have to move with it, not against it.

My third would be to let go, sometimes a plant or project cant be saved and you just need to yeet it & start from scratch and that’s just the circle of life.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

So my current thing to do is binge watch tv at night while I roll incense. I just watched Ink Master and I’ve moved on to watching Greys Anatomy. I’m harvesting my collection of culinary and medicinal herbs to dry out and putting them to use in incense, oils, vinegars, teas, & extracts. As for music, I constantly have some blasting on the farm while I work, so mostly Electronic Dance music so my goats get a mini rave. My current favorite songs are My Best Life by KSHMR and Legacy by the Sidh. As for what I’m nose deep in reading, I got this new book the Lost Book of Herbal Remedies that’s inspiring me to expand the herb garden once again.

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie… and I know this won’t win me southern points but I love pumpkin.

Learn more about Tessa and Green Woman Farm…

Instagram @greenwomanfarm20

Website greenwomanfarm


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Veronica Ortuño: The Five Question Interview

As a teenager Veronica Ortuño cut her teeth as an artist in the underground music and art scene. She is founder and creative director of interior design firm Casa Veronica, and Las Cruxes, a creative services platform that supports creatives with the unique perspective Veronica cultivated through years of performing and creating art. She lives in Elgin with her husband and daughter.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

The affordability and quality of life compared to Austin, where I lived for nearly 20 years. We’ve met some wonderful people within the Elgin community and cherish being able to slow down and be more present. 

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I feel fortunate that my chosen career in ceramics and interior decorating fosters creative expression. I’m constantly brimming with ideas, so having these outlets and avenues for learning fuels my contentment & fulfillment. As a new mother, it was important I not lose my creative voice and maintain some semblance of autonomy aside from parenthood. While I’ve only just started ceramics two years ago, I’m learning so much and am tapping into something deep within myself. I appreciate that it has been both challenging and therapeutic in many ways.

Photo by Andrea Calo

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

A few that stand out: 1.) gratitude & acceptance; 2.) how overwhelming, complex, and beautiful parenthood is; 3.) the importance of simplifying my life

Photo by Andrea Calo

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I’m reading “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer and “Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior” by Chogyam Trungpa. Both illuminating and highly recommended. 

Photo by Andrea Calo

5. Cake or Pie?

I enjoy both but my favorites are: tres leches, chocolate cake, and fruit tart. 

See Veronica’s work here:

Website: Casa Veronica
Instagram: @casa_veronica

Website: Las Cruxes
Instagram: @lascruxes


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