About Shirley Silvasy

On an organic farm in rural provincial Pittsburgh, Shirley lived an anachronistic lifestyle. Her Ukrainian Orthodox upbringing was out of sync with American ways. The extended family tended orchards and gardens, mined coal, raised animals, canned, made breads, cheese, jellies and wines, and peddled produce to inner city folk.

Moved to a medieval city, Poitiers, France, after high school into an older world where her plain ways were modern, even excessive. Travels reinforced a kaleidoscope sense of simultaneous co-existences: food, clothing, languages, arts, topography, bullfights, museums, social mores, and gypsy caravans.

Later in Northern California, Shirley shared coastal forests with mountain lions and rattlesnakes, tended orchards, raised goats and chickens, made cheese and fishing nets. Trading skills and abundant crops was an essential part of life. Paris led me to arts, transcendental meditation and an Israeli kibbutz; California opened communes and eastern philosophies.

Next to Hawaii. Paradise. Mountain trails yielded a bounty of guavas, avocados, ginger blossoms and orchids. Shirley studied languages, Hawaiian music, and dance. The Hawaiian joie de vivre, or aloha no ka o, a love of simple pleasures still colors her days.

Returning to Pittsburgh, the rural had become suburban; the old ways hid in tiny pockets. Marriage and nurturing three children satisfied her sense of wonderment and adventure. The family farm shrunk to a few acres: only a few garden plots, sheep and cows remained. She would frequent the farm and greenhouses with her youngsters, Laina, Tia & Randy.

On to Virginia; teaching English to internationals, working with youth orchestras, scouts, and school groups. Then to Florida; bringing an array of farming practices, a sense of international connectivity, a dedication to stewardship of nature, and a willingness to share experiences and world visions. Shirley looks forward to developing community gardens with a long term goal of farm communes.

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Fellowship for Intentional Communities, Member
  • Nature Conservancy, Member
  • Sierra Club, Member
  • Central Florida Tropical Fruit Club, Member
  • Teachers of English as a Second Language, Member
  • Council for International Visitors, Member
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Member
  • Phi Kappa Phi, Member