Paved With LoveFrom House to Home, The Home and Lifestyle Magazine for the Lewis Clark Valley and Palouse Area, Fall 2005
By Amanda Daniels
It’s been a long road—one paved with hardships and difficulties, yet peppered with persistence, good friends, and fueled by a dream. MaryJane Butters of rural Idaho has created a farm fantasy reality that the nation has latched on to. Brought to the area for forest service at the age of 19, she fell in love with the beautiful landscape and decided to stay. It was no overnight sensation. The concept is not recent, and it has taken decades of toil, sweat, and tears to make her home and her passion a productive business. She and her farmhands love every grain of soil on the gorgeous, scenic property, which is home to a historic, one-room schoolhouse still used for square dances and Sunday Quaker service. The days of working 14 hours a day in anonymity near rural Moscow are over, but the 14-hour days are not.
Frequently referred to as the “naturalist Martha Stewart,” good-natured MaryJane takes it all in stride. (She jokingly calls herself the female Willie Nelson of the farm movement.) After working as a local farmhand, she cultivated a farm spirit along with a dream of ownership and partnership with the land. MaryJane and a friend now produce MaryJanesFarm magazine from her farm in Idaho.
Chock full of heartwarming, wonderful stories by women about living healthy, thrifty lives, and repurposing everyday items, the magazine is a smash hit from New York to New Mexico.
Despite her growing national fame, Butters’ life still maintains the quality that brought her here in the beginning. “I am not in the spotlight as much as it seems. I am out at the chicken coop, moving irrigation lines, or fussing in my bed and breakfast in the tent and changing out flowers.”
In both her publication and her life, she tries to send a consistent message about living organically. She offers up simple ways to incorporate this lifestyle into your own, suggesting totally organic foods requiring little preparation. Practically creating an entire movement, staying true to her ideas and capitalizing on them is and exciting feat. And her suggestions seem to be catching on by themselves. “I didn’t really decide to ‘do’ any of this. The magazine is like a mail order catalog that got out of control and now is a gorgeous commercial-looking glossy magazine, but with real ideas for farmgirls everywhere. We still make the magazine here at the farm.” MaryJane goes on to say that being a farmgirl is a “condition of the heart,” and includes rural girls from Idaho to sophisticates in New York who long to take knitting classes.
Giving back to the community and spreading the word about the quality of farm living is a big part of her life. MaryJane has developed Pay Dirt Farm School, which allows people to apprentice for a day or a week and learn to farm organically, mend clothing the old fashioned way, repair machinery, and be incredibly, organically self-sufficient. The life experience and the surroundings prove to be invaluable for most. A bed and breakfast on site allows guests to stay in a charming wall tent or hut and experience farm life firsthand.
Back to basics we go, and the world embraces the farmgirl from rural Idaho who grew up in a family with very little TV, making her own clothes, and growing her own food. “TV is tough for me. I want to do a show and reach people and help them through that medium, but it is almost a hypocrisy to me. TV was a rarity, and if we did watch, we never watched anything bad. No one got killed in my house. Ever.”
With articles of praise in every prestigious magazine and newspaper in the country, books, magazines, and a website in which farmgirls of all ages and backgrounds can unite, inevitably MaryJane will soon find herself stepping in front of the TV camera. When she does, America will welcome her healthy, bright smile, long braided hair, and heart spilling over with wisdom as pure and golden as mountains of harvested organic wheat.