On a chilly day in October of last year, we planted winter rye in our garden beds to improve the quality of the soil. Despite the cold weather, we watched in astonishment as the seeds sprouted, and then grew fourteen inches before the first snow fell. In the spring, we mowed the beds and turned the clippings into the soil in anticipation of planting this year’s crops.
While the rye was quietly nurturing the soil, we spent our time cultivating a plan to marry our disciplines and start a business. During those fall and winter months, we had many opportunities to ramble – in the hills of Appalachia; in the driftless area of Illinois; and in countless prairie restorations and forest preserves near home. On our way back from one trip we chose Winter Rye as our name. It seemed a fitting way to affirm our commitment to craft – a practice rooted in materials and processes, that moves at a pace that cannot be hurried, and that delivers a satisfaction known only to those who work with their hands.
For us, craft is more important than ever. It forces us to be patient. It reminds us that we are part of a long history of knowledge. It demands that we slow down and wait, and during that time allows us the luxury of focused thought.