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Finding more in less

April 7, 2016

PAYTON POTTER

Staff Reporter | jpp017@latech.edu

 

Lauren Jennings checks the honey comb of her beehive

Lauren Jennings checks the honey comb of her beehive

 

Your question was, ‘What drew us to this life?’ I don’t know. I mean, how could you not love this?”

 

 

The life about which Lauren Jennings spoke is one of intentions, convictions, gardens and bees — a life of sustainable subsistence farming.

 

 

The Jennings’ tiny house sits just behind their farm that is home to chickens, pigs, a large vegetable garden, a small vineyard, several fruit-bearing trees and bees.

 

 

Although working on a small, independent farm is rare in modern times, Lauren Jennings said it is the only life she and her husband Aaron can imagine.

 

 

“This is where I find fulfillment and I feel like I’m actually doing something that’s meaningful to me,” Lauren Jennings said. “I get to grow wholesome food for me and my body, and I get to share it with other people. That’s something that’s really important for me.”

 

 

She said her passion for living a sustainable life began before she met her husband.

 

 

“In high school, I started reading Henry David Thoreau and I was really struck by his lifestyle and his approach to simple living and relying on the land,” Lauren Jennings said. “That struck a chord with me. I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I knew it was how I wanted to live.”

 

 

After college, she travelled with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. When she returned to Ruston, she met Aaron Jennings at the Ruston Farmers Market and the two married in October 2015.

 

 

“When I met him, it was like the perfect timing,” she said. “He was keeping bees and selling honey at the farmers market, which I was crazy about. I found we both really wanted to try sustainable living and we wanted to try out a tiny house and that’s working out good for us.”

 

 

Aaron Jennings said he began beekeeping to make organic lotions to use in his massage therapy practice.

 

 

“I wanted to make lotions that were good for people’s skin,” he said. “I started researching, and I found that most of the lotions called for beeswax. When I started looking into beeswax, I found out that most beekeepers used a lot of pesticides and antibiotics inside the hive. So, I decided to get a hive and do it myself. I got one beehive. From there, I ended up getting five beehives. I turned that into 20 hives.”

 

 

He now sells honey, lip balm, sunscreen, lotion, beard balm, beard oil and mustache wax made from beeswax at several Ruston stores.

 

 

Aaron Jennings said their house, outdoor shower and outdoor composting toilet are other ways they practice mindfulness and sustainability.

 

 

“It goes all back to Thoreau saying ‘simplify, simplify, simplify,’” Aaron Jennings said. “In every aspect of our life, we’re trying to get it to the simplest level. It’s very financially advantageous. Just because you have a very small overhead. You don’t buy a lot of crap because you don’t have anywhere to put it.”

 

 

He said the tiny house serves not only as a reminder of simplification but also as a means of financial freedom for the couple.

 

 

“We’ve heard people say ‘Oh, if I didn’t have all this debt, I would live like that,’” he said. “This is how you get rid of debt. This is how you save money. We like to travel, so, instead of buying junk, we spend our money on gas or hotels or traveling.”

 

 

Lauren Jennings said living in the tiny house and working on the farm helps her stay aware of the world around her.

 

 

“I just think there is value in being conscious,” she said. “Not being swept up in everything that is going on. There are a lot of opportunities for us to turn on the TV and just zone out. It’s really important to check oneself out of that sometimes and pay attention to the world around you, the people around and to what’s going on inside. We don’t get it right every day, but we try to be conscious. This is not right for everybody, it’s just what we want. And it’s worked out for us.”

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