This week on NEXT, we talk with singer-songwriter Heather Maloney about quitting her music degree for meditation, then becoming a songwriter during a silent retreat. And the carrier pigeons of old still find a way to race across the sky. Plus, essayist Tim Clark remembers the neighbors who helped when his wife fell down the church stairs. 

Musician Heather Maloney Talks Meditation And Music

Musician Heather Maloney released her album “Soil in the Sky” in 2019. She’s based in western Massachusetts. (Scott Housley)

Heather Maloney’s music has been described as “utterly gorgeous, visceral” by The New York Times. She’s a singer-songwriter based in western Massachusetts and signed with Signature Sounds Recording. Heather has collaborated with The Avett Brothers, Band of Horses, Darlingside and members of Dawes. She’s touring around the country after releasing her fourth full-length album “Soil in the Sky” this summer.

Essay: The Fall

Tim Clark has been writing personal essays for about forty years. He’s an editor at the Old Farmer’s Almanac in Dublin, New Hampshire. He says he’s spent so many years writing essay that he’ll be walking around in his day-to-day life and say, “That’s an essay” and “There another one.” Tim says that’s what was happening when he watched his wife May get carted away on a stretcher to an ambulance after she fell last December. He doesn’t know if he should be ashamed or proud of that fact, but he did write that essay. It’s called “The Fall” and was featured in Yankee Magazine’s “Special Holiday Issue” this year. 

The full Yankee Magazine issue is available at newsstands and NewEngland.com.

Pigeons: The Race Horses Of The Sky

Competitors discuss race details over a crate of pigeons at the Rhode Island Pigeon Club in Attleboro, MA. November 2019. (Cariad Harmon)

From the pigeons released at the first Olympic Games to the heroic birds of WWI, homing pigeons have been helping humans deliver important messages for thousands of years. These days, however, homing pigeons are bred and sold not to deliver mail, but to compete in avian races. Although pigeon racing is rapidly growing in places like China and India, here in the U.S., organizations like the Rhode Island Racing Pigeon Club are struggling to gain new members. Despite the challenges, pigeon fanciers in the Northeast are dedicated to keeping the sport alive.

Cariad Harmon is co-host and producer at the Nashville Public Radio podcast “Neighbors.” She produced this story for Atlantic Public Media through their media training program, The Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Organic Dairy Farmers Push To Keep Non-organic Milk From Their Products

These young Jersey heifers at Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield, Vermont were raised organically from birth, but Vermont farmers say some large operations are exploiting inconsistencies in how organic standards are applied to cut costs. (John Dillon/VPR)

Organic dairy farmers in Vermont say some milk in their market is not actually organic. They say large-scale producers in the West and Midwest skirt the rules and gain an advantage because industry standards are inconsistently enforced. Hear why the farmers are asking Congress to help to close those regulatory loopholes.

Reviving The Local Grain Economy

Kim Van Wormer, right, and Sydney Tierney carefully move the 2500 lb mill stone into place. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The local food movement has made it easier to find fresh veggies and fruit farmed nearby. But grains? Not so much. Most of the bread New Englanders break is made with flour from industrial, Mid-western farms. That’s changing though. Learn how farmers, millers, and chefs are rallying to re-invent a lost, regional “grain economy.” 

About NEXT

NEXT is produced at Connecticut Public Radio

Host and Producer: Morgan Springer

Senior Director: Catie Talarski

Contributors to this episode: Tim Clark, John Dillon, Andrea Shea and Cariad Harmon.

Music: Todd Merrell, “New England” by Goodnight Blue Moon, Sandbar” by Wren Kitz and Wirewick” by Mile 12.

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