Suddenly changing course after building something beautiful isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s even heart-wrenching. But when you know you’re doing the right thing for the greater health and safety of the farm and your friends of the farm, then it’s time to put on the creative thinking cap for bringing that which was beautiful forward in a new way.

Such has been the challenge when making our decision to stick with pre-order pickup to-go offerings for the whole summer. What would become of the beloved wood-fired pizza nights with live music? What would happen to guided farm tours? How could we continue to share that experience, even when we cannot gather at the farm at this time?

All around, events are canceling. That would be the easier route — just skip a year — but we have remained focused on leading the way forward toward a new normal, rather than finding a way out. We have been able to move all of our food offerings online, but what about the cultural and farm tour events?

A healthy sustainable life model not only sees to the physical needs of food and environment but also brings into play the z-axis of creativity, imagination, and expression. Taking a recess from these aspects would leave the model two-dimensional and less human. In the midst of the stress of a global pandemic, having art and music in our lives is more essential than ever. We also know that seeing where your food comes from and how it is raised and grown is equally critical at this time — especially as the consolidated agribusiness system cracks and falters across the country. Through this global grieving of what was, we all have a yearning for the personable storyteller’s touch. Stories and songs help us make sense of our world and connect with each other, across time and distance.

Live-streaming seems to be trending for helping performers connect with their audiences, but live-streaming can be fraught with perils when you live in the hinterland of internet connectivity. And nobody enjoys a frozen, broken, halting stream, no matter how dedicated they are to watching it. Even if we had magically fast and powerful internet speed at the end of a dirt road in the Chequamegon National Forest, our strict protocols for keeping the farm animals safe from potential infection means we would not be hosting guests at our place, even for filming. Time to get creative indeed!

Research plus gear acquisition plus plenty of legwork and late nights have led to our latest adaptive offering in the face of COVID-19. We know you want to still see the farm and the animals, hear from our vibrant music community, and enjoy a feeling of spending an evening on the farm, so that’s what we’re doing virtually, via compiled videos hosted online advertisement free!

As the host for the series, each week I pick interesting and seasonal things to record on the farm — spying on the baby ducklings, singing with Cinnamon the hen, capturing fast-motion seedling relay, or sharing a humorous story with the radishes. You have a chance to be much closer to the animals than you ever could on a farm tour as well as learn a bit about our homesteading practices. The musicians we booked for this summer are safely recording their shows from their home, and we’re bringing all these elements together into an enjoyable film that you can watch from the safety and comfort of your home.

The other benefit of utilizing an on-demand video platform instead of live-streaming is that you can watch it at a time that works for you. Find the Locally Grown Summer Music Series Season 8 on video here:

Guest artists Woodblind from Duluth (ska) and Micheal Monroe from Minnesota’s North Shore (acoustic legend) have helped us kick off the series with two great videos. New content will be posted each week. I hope you enjoy them and share the link with friends who might also find joy in these creative expressions.

How are you finding ways of moving forward with heart and creativity? Have you been meeting virtually with loved ones? Working from home? Has this transition brought into focus for you which social connections matter most and which were quite superficial and unhelpful? The current situation offers a unique opportunity for re-evaluating what matters most and how we should move forward. As we collectively move through this transition, remember to bring with you that which feeds health, wholeness, and peace. See you down on the farm sometime.

Laura Berlage is a co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms, LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café. 715-462-3453,