When I was a young girl, I spent summers on my Aunt and Uncle 160-acre farm in the Hudson Valley. My cousin and I rode bareback in our swimsuits, drove the Jeep around the property, and built makeshift cabins in the woods.

Aunt Sue took me to a Shaker village when I was about 12 years old. We browsed the rambling herb gardens and tasted them all, from chocolate and lemon mint to thyme and oregano. I vividly remember the plaques that lined the gardens with descriptions and uses for each herb.

Those precious summers on the farm taught me that human beings are not to dictate what happens to the land. Instead, the land dictates what must be done. Harvesting tomatoes for canning and sauce-making and gathering mint for stomach aches showed me that our efforts to care for the land provide us with both food and medicine.

Many years later, I longed for a place to live every day in harmony with the natural world. After along search, my husband and I discovered our current home in the Sunday paper. The ad only mentioned the acreage, the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, and a phone number.

We drove out straightaway, hiked down a dirt road past a chicken farm, hopped a rusty gate, and our hearts just about stopped. No telephone wires, no houses — just an unbroken landscape of three luscious valleys, and beyond them, the Cleveland National Forest.

We have the privilege to own that 157 acres of land, The Crown Hill Ranch & Conservation Center, for the past 20 years. The ranch is home to 200 bee hives, 70 olive trees, and 100 lavender plants. We also grow and test botanicals known for their healing properties.

As I continue on this path, I am committed to honoring the legacy of stewardship passed down to me. I hope future generations will develop committed relationships with the natural world, just as I did on my aunt and uncle’s farm all those years ago.

Laurie Miller