Carol Padberg

Nook Farm House sits on the traditional and unceded land of the Pequot, Tunxis, Sicoag and Wangunk peoples of Connecticut. In the early 17th century English colonial settlers arrived to this place, a home to native peoples for thousands of years. Between 1620 and 1640 countless indigenous people suffered and died from exposure to European diseases and from defending their land and culture in wars with the English. Descendents of these first nations survived, some by merging with other tribes, some by retreating in small groups, some suffering further when they were enslaved.

In the 19th century this area was part of Nook Farm, a literary community in Hartford. Nook Farm was many things: a stop on the Underground Railroad, an agrarian neighborhood, and a place where social change was fostered by abolitionists and suffragettes.

These days, the nearby section of the Park River, which provided the nook of Nook Farm, is contained and paved over. Interstate highway 84 has been built over it. Our 1904 house is now in the Asylum Hill neighborhood and its little backyard borders a big corporate parking lot.

My practices here can be called art or agriculture, craft or domesticity, ecology or entanglement. Nook Farm House is a lab for experiments in intimacy with nature in this city community and a place to contend with this nation's painful history. These investigations take the form of social gatherings, dye and medicinal herb gardens; mycological adventures; living willow fences for basket making; a small bamboo grove; chickens that build soil and feed us; a free food pantry; and a small shed for weaving. It is systems thinking braided in with place and people. It is a home.