Nestled among hilltops between Back Allegheny Mountain and Gauley Mountain lies Pleasant Valley Farm. The farm overlooks the dale carved by Old Field Fork, which flows into the Elk River at Slaty Fork, a few miles to the north. Native Americans traversed the valley for centuries along the Seneca Trail. The farm provides an unsurpassed vista of the beautiful landscape below and Gauley Mountain to the west.
Generations of the Gibson family made their living on the farm. Gayle Boyette and Sam Gibson took advantage of the magnificent location to create a retreat, with guest cottages and cabins. For several years, the couple have invited visitors to get away from it all at their peaceful retreat. Recently, Boyette developed an idea to host special events on the farm.
Boyette, who worked as a registered nurse, understands the value of proper nutrition, relaxation and exercise to a person’s overall health. She brainstormed a concept for a wellness retreat at Pleasant Valley Farm, to be held in April. An expert in organic gardening and cooking, Boyette will teach those subjects herself. She is inviting experts in other areas, including psychology, yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture and aesthetics (skin care) to teach and lead discussions during the retreat.
Boyette said she wants attendees to share their ideas, as well as learn from the experts.
“It would be my ultimate dream to have the wellness retreats visited and enjoyed by people who want to grow spiritually, become healthier and to share their ideas,” she said. “And it would be a great thing for me to bring them to me.”
The April event is a test run for Boyette and Gibson and will include a variety of wellness topics. Future, for-pay, retreats will be more focused.
“Our plan, as we move forward, is to have retreats that are specifically geared toward various individual needs,” said Boyette. “This time, we’re going to have just a little taste of what will be offered in the future.”
Depending on specific needs, identified by the hosts, future retreats will focus on issues such as men’s stress, women’s stress and diabetes.
Boyette is hoping for good weather in April.
“We’re going to try and do as much of it outside, as possible,” she said. “Some of our speaking areas will be right beside the creek over there. We have sitting areas all around. We may hike to the top of the hill, where there’s a huge meadow that overlooks all the mountain range surrounding us. We may be doing yoga in a field. We may be doing massage therapy outdoors.”
Roundtable discussion topics will include time management and decision making.
“This is something I would recommend for anyone who is interested in improving their nutrition, their health, their life,” said Boyette. “We’ll be discussing decision making, for example. What is your process in making a decision? How do you make decisions about whether you’re going to involve yourself in activities or not? What’s too much for you? We’ll be discussing coming up with a way to schedule your life so that you don’t overdo in some areas and you don’t under-do in other areas.”
Boyette has practiced organic gardening and healthy cooking for several years.
“What I have learned is that food is medicine,” she said. “If you eat well and you do well, you don’t have to have diabetes just because your parents did.You don’t have to have cancer or have a heart attack just because it runs in your family. Even though you have the genetics for a certain type of illness, you can minimize your risks by eating proper nutrition and, of course, getting proper exercise.”
“We’re going to touch on things like eating for your body type and what foods are best for you,” Boyette added. “Most people don’t realize – they go on these diets and think if they just reduce their calories and exercise more that everything will be fine. But I didn’t realize until this past year that my blood type influenced how I process food. So, if I eat food recommended for the blood that I have, then I’ll do better.”
Boyette said a date would be set and a retreat schedule published soon. In the meantime, she shared some of her organic cooking recipes.
Ingredients: Spinach, chopped onions, 1/2 pound Swiss cheese, three eggs, one cup cream, pie crust.
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a pie crust in a pan with spinach leaves. Fill pan with chopped spinach, chopped onions and shredded cheese. Beat eggs and mix in cream. Season with white pepper and nutmeg. Pour egg/cream mixture into pan, covering the chopped spinach and onions. Bake for 45 minutes.
Fried Squash Blossoms
Ingredients: Male squash blossoms (never sprayed with pesticide; male blossoms have a skinny stem), 1/2 lb. cream cheese, 1/2 cup flour, three eggs, one bottle beer, onion, oregano, thyme and cilantro.
Stuffing: Mix softened cream cheese with chopped onion, oregano, thyme and cilantro. Stuff blossoms with mixture and set aside.
Batter: Beat three egg whites until fluffy. Fold in yolks and season with salt and pepper. Mix in flour and beer to achieve good batter consistency. Dip stuffed blossoms in batter and fry in pan until golden brown.
Carrot Cake Candy
Ingredients: Six large peeled carrots, one cup dates, 1/4 cup shredded coconut. Grind carrots in grinder. Mix in dates and coconut. Form into balls and serve (tastes like carrot cake).
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Ingredients: Fresh green cabbage, two cups cooked wild rice, one lb. organic ground beef, two chopped onions, six tomatoes, basil, oregano. Pull off large outer cabbage leaves and boil until tender. Mix ground beef with chopped onions, salt/pepper and rice. Wrap scoops of meat mixture with cabbage leaves. Place stuffed leaves into baking dish. Cook six tomatoes down to sauce and season with basil and oregano. Pour sauce over wrapped leaves. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.