She's Empowered Spotlight: Audra, Founder of Girl Meets Dirt
"My first love is poetry, and I think we have an incredible opportunity at each table, to gather, to break bread, and jam, and connect in new, and thoughtful ways with other humans....something that we make can bring people together. To me, this is poetry in action."
We are so excited to continue our She’s Empowered series and introduce you to Audra, founder of Girl Meets Dirt. We have SUCH a girl crush on this amazing female founder + her local, Orcas Island-based company! Their unique & delicious jams pair beautifully with our nut butters, creating the perfect toast combo. Meet Audra!
Tell us a little about you!
I’m the owner, founder, and original girl (yep, OG, you got that right) of Girl Meets Dirt. I’m also a mom of two young kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 14 chickens and I steward a husband, occasionally.
What do you do for work? Tell us about your professional journey.
Girl Meets Dirt makes heritage fruit preserves, shrubs and bitters from legacy San Juan Islands trees – a nod to our island orchard history in the early 1900s. We craft each jar and bottle by hand in our Orcas Island kitchen and much of the fruit we pick ourselves. We started 6 years ago, inspired by the century old trees that flanked my 5-acre farmette, and my personal need to have something to call my own. My husband and I moved from New York City to Orcas in 2011 – quit our jobs, bought a small home with a large garden, and with a hope and wish turned our lives upside down. We pretty quickly started trying to have a family, and pretty quickly struggled. Over 3 years I had 5 miscarriages – Girl Meets Dirt started in the midst of all that. I always say the business was my first baby. I found great inspiration in the rootedness of those old trees- reaching down deeper and deeper into the earth each year to find the sustenance they needed to carry on. And no matter what I faced on my personal journey to craft to the life of meaning I craved, I spent seasons watching the trees go from barren to bud, and bloom, and then fruit. That first year of harvest I stayed up all night making jam – teaching myself through trial and error- motivated by the prospect of something delicious and vibrant, and full of life, in the middle of my own barren winter. I started a business in a time when I was perhaps least prepared for it emotionally, but it gave me what I needed: hope. My sixth pregnancy was my baby boy Life, who is now 5, and it’s been business and babies and fruit ever since.
How do you stay motivated?
My first love is poetry, and I think we have an incredible opportunity at each table, to gather, to break bread, and jam, and connect in new, and thoughtful ways with other humans. I’m motivated by that potential connection. That something that we make can bring people together. To me, this is poetry in action.
Do you have any advice for someone who is interested in starting a business/blog?
Do it. Take the plunge. Try it out. You can always pivot if you need to. Life is short. Life is now. Now, I say this as a very type A individual who generally covers all her bases before taking the leap herself. So do some planning, create a financial cushion, but don’t expect a perfect plan. Write your story as you go and expect the road to be curvy.
What are your favorite ways to #spreadgood in your community?
We live on an island with about 5000 residents, and we have over 100 registered non-profits. The heart and soul of this community beats and sings to making sure everyone and every living thing is taken care of. We’re particularly connected to education programs for young children- we support a network of preschools that collaborate to provide opportunities for all children to access the outdoors, have creative opportunities, and grow things. We’re also very involved in the San Juan County Agricultural Guild and our annual agricultural summit with a passion for reinvigorating the orchard industry here. Our favorite way to #spreadgood will always be making the most of the precious fruit of century old trees so everyone can spread some on their toast, and cheese (and cheers with shrubs) – and perhaps come away a little inspired to dig deeper and foster hope in their own lives.
Who is one person who inspires you and why?
There are so many #badassbabes in my life that inspire me: Tera Landman of Orcas Island Winery, Christa Cotton of El Guapo Bitters, Susan Soltes of Bow Hill Blueberries, Lila Martin DeBenedetti of Talk Story PR, Laura Ellis of Mt. Hope Farms, Megan Wagstaff of Lady Yum, Sarah Simms of Lady & Larder, and the more public figure ones I don’t know personally but would love to, Sara Blakely of Spanx, Daina Trout of Health-Ade Kombucha. I love nothing more than seeing a working mom running her own business and slaying it. I know the struggle is real, and the notion that we can’t have it all certainly resonates with me deeply, but there is something in me (and these mom babes) that will just keep on trying.
How do you work to stay centered and practice self-care in your busy day-to-day reality?
I’m one of those people who needs to speed up to slow down. You’ll find me hiking Turtleback Mountain at least three times a week. I also love swimming our mountain lakes in the summer time and trail running. Something about getting my heart rate up helps me get centered again and organize my thoughts. I make my best decisions from the top of a mountain.
What do you like to do for fun, when you aren't working?
I love to cook, prepare meals for my family, and have people over. Even just a quickly thrown together cheese + jam + grazing board with some bubbly and shrubs or good wine. I also love dining out, getting out on the water (by boat or stand up paddleboard), picnicking, gardening, and traveling.
What are some of your favorite recipes with Ground Up?
I’m partial to dipping a wedge of dark chocolate into your Coconut Cardamom with a dollop of our Shiro Plum with Mint on top…but alas, that’s my sweet tooth talking. A simple spoonful would be my next choice! Nut butters are my power food and there is nothing easier or more delicious to fuel a workout.