Kath's Story

 


My darling reader,

 
I imagine if you have found yourself here, you have a desire to live a life of connection, vibrancy and joy. A life that centers deep love for community, for the earth on which we love and grow, and for continuously finding ways to foster healthy, full, authentic lives. 

I write this as a 64-year young woman with a lot of life experience under my apron, deeply committed to family and community (who most often shows my love through food.) I hope that my story will inspire you to lean into and grow with grit, passion, and wholeheartedness. 
 
The beginning is always the best place to start. With deep roots in my O’Leary clan as the youngest of my generation, I was raised with a constant connection to family including weekly visits to my aunts and uncles. My father was a single parent to six of us. The daily chores were divided accordingly which opened up the world of cuisine to me by the age of 10. I had a Betty Crocker Cookbook and free reign in the kitchen. Hence, feeding my family began.
 
One of my fondest memories as a child is one warm summer morning, as a sweet fragrance filled the air. I followed my nose to a bush dripping with ripe blueberries, tucked my shirt to create a pouch, filled it with warm fragrant berries and brought them home to dear Dad. He was having his daily bowl of cereal before work. As I filled his bowl full of warm ripe berries, his surprised delight filled me with joy. A pure, beautiful joy I had never known. The act of lovingly foraging, harvesting and feeding someone caused my heart to soar like an eagle with his sincere appreciation. I so loved my Dad. And I was hooked!
 
From my footloose teen years, the seeds of my love for local, sustainable food were planted when I attended the first U.S gathering of the World Vegetarian Conference in Orono Maine in 1975. After solo hitchhiking five hours north, I found myself surrounded by shakti’s, Buddhist monks, sprouters, juicers, vegetarians and the passionate environmentalists of the 70’s. In a crowded gymnasium it was the words of Scott Nearing that forged my path, “to live a simple good life, to tread gently." At just 15 years old, this inspired me to start my own journey into local, real and sustainable food.

Then, in 1995 I created Once in a Blue Moon Market & Cafe. I needed a place close to home to find the whole foods I wanted to eat and a place to share them with my community. “Blue Moon” went on to become a beacon in the natural foods’ movement. For 27 years we grew, taught, thrived, educated, expanded, embraced the first yoga community, and eventually evolved into an award-winning farm-to-table restaurant model we named Blue Moon Evolution.
 
One of my main philosophies is that every aspect of how our food is handled makes a difference. What is most important is the energy and attitude in which it is prepared. I believe in being present, in holding the energy of love mindfully while you are preparing nourishing food full of life force. People must eat, and where and what they eat is a choice, a luxury. If they choose and love your kitchen it is truly an honor. 
 
I believe that the beauty of food is in the exchange. It fills you with an energy, a positive life force of gratitude like nothing else I have ever experienced. 

Another philosophy I hold sacred is that of community care. In my Exeter, New Hampshire community I have long been drawn to volunteer. For five years I co-developed and instated an after-school program for fifty students, earning the recipient of the United Way, Spirit of the Seacoast Award. I was also inspired to become the founder of “Cooks Corner,” a teen center’s weekly program teaching, preparing, and serving healthy meals with teens, feeding over fifty students a week. 
 
I have been honored to collaborate with The Farm at Eastman’s Corner, in Kensington, NH, teaching cooking and creating a family cookbook and found great rewards mentoring in the UNH Entrepreneurship Program for over a decade.
 
The Slow Food connection also brought me to Turin, Italy as one of three-hundred delegates from the United States to the 20th Anniversary Conference of Slow Food Terra Madre. In the streets of the ancient city I joined the world cry to preserve food traditions, and committed to Carlos Petrini’s words “that food was about all about relationships.” Currently, I am involved in a nonprofit called Gather, and the Exeter Community Fridge teaching and cooking for those in need.
 
I have been truly blessed. 

Today, I am a creative chef and educator, having been recognized as Remarkable Woman of Cuisine in NH, and NH Magazine’s Top 100 Women in Business for several years. I co-created the Food and Health Forum educational platform, including a Dinner Lecture Series where we kicked off with a keynote lecture from Stonyfield Yogurt's Gary Hirshberg. This series brought together six gatherings each hosting over one hundred people with a locally sourced meal.
 
I am co-creator of Dig In, a health and wellness program that produced four seasonal cookbooks, weekly videos, and daily tips. In 2020, when all of our worlds came to an abrupt halt, I initiated a program called Stronger Together to provide an online platform for people to support each other during covid.

But my story would not be complete without mentioning what I hold most sacred of all, my family. 

My children have been my motivation, my heart and soul for providing nourishing food in a loving environment. Meadow, my firstborn, and I have shared a sweet relationship and enjoyed working side by side in Blue Moon for over 25 years. She is the mother of my first, dear grandchild Blake, now 21.
 
Alissa is our world traveler, food and wine connoisseur, CrossFit junkie, paleo eating second born. She is living life simply in Costa Rica, mother of our sweet Tulip age 7, and wife to Ian.  
 
Our youngest, Jeremy, is a fine woodworker, artist, musician, and rooted in our local community. He is Jim’s pool rival, and husband to Adeline.

And then there is Jim. The other half of my dynamic duo. We have envisioned, created, produced and finished projects for ourselves and our community for decades. Married 42 years and recently retired, we are still having fun and enjoying life together. Sisters, brothers, cousins, in-laws, outlaws, friends who consider themselves family have all enjoyed the home we have created together as a place for gathering, eating outrageous food and celebrating family, life and love.
 
May we all have such luck, to live unabashedly in this overflowing life.
 

-Kath