When Susan Shaw decided to leave her hectic graphic artist career behind for a farm in Canton, GA., she did so without regret and hasn’t looked back since. Her amazing journey has led her to become affectionately dubbed, Farmer Sue. She admits she loves every minute spent sharing her love of animals and the great outdoors with her friends and guests.
Morning Glory Farm is open year-round and plays host to plenty of afterschool classes, fieldtrips, workshops and parties. With the endless activities that happen on the farm, it doesn’t seem as though her life has slowed down at all, but Shaw is quick to explain that she wouldn’t have it any other way. “We are so busy in our days, school, shopping, work, that our life becomes a busy blur,” says Shaw, “What the farm has to offer is the simplicity of a moment.”
How long have you owned Morning Glory Farm?
Twelve years physically, but in my heart much longer. I have moments now and then when I am with a child or planting or painting something and I blink and shake my head with the feeling I have already seen this amazing moment before.
Have you always wanted to be a farmer?
Since moving here, I have always jokingly called myself 'The Accidental Farm Girl.' In my previous life - I had nice nails, cute clothes and I loved to dabble in the garden but never had enough sun or space for more than a box of herbs and a few flowers in the front yard. After moving here with the simple goal of slowing down, putting my graphic design studio in the old barn and maybe just maybe getting a horse one day, somehow I was magically transformed. At the time I had been teaching some afterschool art classes and started incorporating the animals into the projects. The next thing I knew, I was Farmer Sue after a few of my students started calling me that. I laughed and said, ‘Wow, now I am somebody!’ Next came the pearls, pink shirts, overalls and big straw hat!
How did you come up with the concept for The ArtBarn?
I had moved in and been here for a year and decided to throw myself a 40th birthday party complete with barbecue, outdoor music and fun. I invited all my friends most of whom had kids. I set up a table with random art supplies to keep the kids busy while we got dinner ready. Next thing I know everybody, adults included, are taking time to make a little art. It was a wonderful evening.
Months and months later when a friend was debating what to do for her child’s birthday, I suggested doing it at the farm. All the kids had a blast at my party! We went for a nature walk, petted the old pony, met the rooster and made great art - they loved it. Next thing you know, the kids were calling it The ArtBarn. After a glass of wine and some sketching, the cute little logo came together and voilà, The ArtBarn was born. We’ve been partying like crazy ever since!
What can people experience when they visit the farm?
A true family farm. A day filled with laughter, learning and love. A day that feels like a visit to your favorite aunt or uncle’s house! Warm eggs, fuzzy chicks, a symphony of barnyard sounds, honey bees buzzing in the garden, and giggles as you tickle a pig’s tummy or the love you feel when the littlest donkey snuggles into your arms or a tiny lamb lays it head on your shoulder. Learning about the animals and how things grow in the garden. Creating a piece of art in the barn and simply making a memory your family will never forget.
What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from the simple beauty of nature and animals and seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Morning Glory Farm is the place I would have loved to have been able to hang out when I was a child. I would never have gone home and the good thing is now I don’t have to!
How have your life experiences and background contributed to what you are doing today?
My whole life has contributed to the joy of this farm in so many ways. I liken them to colorful threads floating in the breeze then suddenly something happens and they all tangle up into this beautiful, sometimes messy, yet amazing tapestry that is your life or is this farm!
How do you lead a healthy lifestyle?
Living on the farm has been a major life changing experience in so many ways. As far as healthy lifestyle goes, in the beginning it was giving up TV because there were so many things to learn and do. Then it was experiencing delicious farm fresh eggs. Next, it was home grown tomato sandwiches, trading sodas for water with mint from the garden and it just kept growing from there.
Watching a chicken in its natural state and finding out how long it takes for a chick to be at your grocery store will really change your thoughts on some super market things. I am so excited that there is a huge push for Farm to Table information at school these days. Teachers are asking for more gardens and growing emphasis in their farm fieldtrips.
Farm to Table has really helped me re-boost my own commitment to a better lifestyle and to see how much further I can push what I do here at the farm. I try my best to eat better and smarter. I’m trying to pay more attention to sugars and see what I can replace with honey now that I have the bees. Growing things makes you want to cook more things! Salad straight from the garden is amazing.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Listen to your heart. Follow your dream. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can or can’t do or what you are capable of. I do have days where I shake my head and think back to my old life and look at what I’m doing now and say, ‘Who would have ever thunk it?’ and it always makes me smile.