Four Questions with Alison Kerr

by Wendy Gabriel

Alison Kerr is an American from Scotland who lives with her family in a Alison Kerrleafy suburb in North East Kansas, within the Kansas City metro. She writes about our connections with nature and with each other and ways to grow greener kids, home, garden, and community at Loving Nature’s Garden. Visit Alison’s blog for thought-provoking conversations, tips, and interesting tid-bits about nature, gardening, sustainability, and learning.

How do you make your day-to-day life a littler greener?

Firstly, I think it’s essential to have contact with nature and have a sense of place. The feeling of connectedness with others, with community, and with nature is what keeps me working toward being a little greener. I was raised in an essentially frugal family. I do things like keeping my mileage down, air drying laundry, eating only 4oz of meat a day and setting the thermostat low in winter, warm in summer; I love wearing sweaters, which helps! These all result in savings for me as well as for the environment. On top of that I grow a vegetable garden and subscribe to a farmer’s alliance (similar to CSA).

My husband and I have agonized over the myriad of schooling options for our daughters. Public schools, private schools, home schooling. What have been the benefits you’ve seen in home schooling your children?

When my kids were younger we would meet other homeschoolers at the park once a week and stay until the schools got out. Those were great outdoor times for us. Like you say though, responsible parents agonize over educational choices. I don’t think choices are set in stone though. My kids have been in public school as well as Montessori and homeschool. I tend to go with what feels right at a particular point in time for a particular child. As to the benefits of home schooling, there’s a lot of flexibility to find something that works. There is so much choice now for materials, but there’s a fair bit of trial and error involved. I feel very fortunate to spend so much time with my kids and watch them develop. They love to learn and I enjoy being with them, which to me is what it’s all about.

I really enjoy your site, Loving Nature’s Garden. On it, you mention you love good food. What is one of your favorite recipes?

Thanks, I’m so glad you enjoy my site. I like to cook meals with minimal ingredients. Here is a simple soup I make quite regularly. 

  • 6 cups of stock – chicken or vegetable
  • 2 small or one large green onion (washed and sliced)
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)

Basically you just warm up the stock, then throw in the corn. When the corn is warmed up add the other 2 ingredients and serve. I rarely make things exactly the same way twice – I might throw in some parsley from the garden, or anything else suitable which is on-hand.

You are originally from Scotland. Are there any challenges to living sustainably that you’ve noticed, specific to the U.S., that you didn’t have to deal with in Scotland?

Yes, in Scotland public transport is very available and I used it a lot. I got my first car when I was 25 years old; I only felt I needed it because it was hard carrying a kayak though the streets of Edinburgh to the train station. I think one of the biggest challenges to sustainability in the U.S. is the sheer scale of our country. Things in Scotland are closer, homes are smaller, and the year-round temperature range in Scotland is significantly less. This all translates to more energy use in the U.S. for a similar lifestyle. Overall I’d also say that the Scots are just a bit less concerned with appearance and more with functionality and frugality, which is good for achieving sustainability. The Scots are a kind of down-to-earth, practical race. On the other hand, America has huge strength in diversity and innovation. Once we set our minds and hearts to something we can’t be stopped. I think there is great reason to be hopeful of a sustainable future once we all start doing our part.

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  1. Alison Kerr’s avatar

    Wendy, I am very honored to have been asked. Thanks 🙂

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