In this episode, I’m excited to be reunited with an old friend and former colleague, Rootopia founder Michelle Ratcliffe. Michelle is a farm to family specialist, who aims to help mothers raise happy, healthy kids and help our nation’s farmers prosper. She is a mom to two boys, and lives on a 4-acre farm near Portland, Oregon.

As a first-generation American who struggled in school, digging in the earth and growing food grounded Michelle and turned her onto academics. Over the past 20 years, she’s been researching ways to get more local healthy foods on our plates and advocating for policy changes that would do that. Michelle earned her doctorate in Agriculture, Food and the Environment from Tufts University with research focused on the impacts of school gardening on adolescents. Her research into school gardening was vital to the gardening and childhood obesity efforts of First Lady Michelle Obama, which led to Michelle’s recent visit to the White House to celebrate the White House Kitchen Garden Dedication.

In this conversation, Michelle and I talk about the transformative experience we had creating a community garden with young people over 15 years ago and how the honesty of Michelle’s students course-corrected her to the meaningful career path she is on today. Michelle shares the importance of being rooted in her family and their health, as well as the importance of community and civic-mindedness. And, we explore stepping forward with faith on your path, taking the next right step, even when you don’t yet know exactly where it will take you.

During this holiday season, I hope this episode will inspire you to get more grounded with your family by saying no to over-scheduling and yes to cooking, eating and spending quality time with your children.

Looking to make an end of the year donation? Consider Alternatives in Action, the non-profit youth development organization celebrating 20 years of service, where Michelle and Julie worked together.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • The importance of being present and intentional in your family’s life
  • Don’t try to do too much and be “scheduled out” – rest and recuperation is important for your health.
  • Aligning priorities with reality and investing deeply in your values
  • Letting go of your ego and sense of self that is wrapped in work
  • Creating an environment where magical moments can happen.
  • Having the faith to create before knowing how it will all turn out

Resources mentioned in this episode:


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