Pat Pearlman: Gypsy Steward of the Earth


Pat in Egypt in 2008

Note: The title next to Pat’s name (above) refers to my description of her as a “modern gypsy” who also lives in a way that protects the environment—a perfect profile for Earth Day.

By a stroke of luck, or maybe fate, I sat next to a very interesting woman on my way back (by plane) from visiting my daughter in California last month. Her name is Pat Pearlman and she hails from Erie, PA.  However, while still young, her mother told her she could do or be whatever she wanted, and what she wanted was to get out of Erie.

Pat, who makes gemstone jewelry (See sample below), currently lives on her organic coffee farm in Hawaii. She has lived there for almost 20 years. Before that, she lived for 20 years in the woods in Alaska and home schooled her son, Rafe, who is a musician. And before that she lived several years on Cape Cod.

On her small farm in Hawaii, Pat has fruit trees and a vegetable garden—bananas, avocados, lemons, limes, greens, eggplant, tomatoes, and chayotes— so she is, for the most part, self-sustaining, because she also trades some of her produce for cheese and eggs. And of course, she gets her Kona coffee for free!

While on the plane, Pat showed me some gems she had just purchased at a gem show. Some were tiny diamonds no larger than a pinhead. She was very excited about going back to Hawaii to start making this jewelry and said she really had never spent so much on gems, but was ready to take the leap to more upscale jewelry. (See sample below.)

As we talked, Pat told me she was also ready to sell her coffee farm and embark on a new adventure. She has been living fairly isolated, except for people who help her farm. She told me she is ready for “community,” that is, living with other like-minded people.

What I learned in the few hours on the plane was that she was returning to Erie because her 80 plus mother was ill and she would visit her siblings and make sure her mom was taken care of. When we parted, I told her to send me pictures of herself and her farm. She did one better and sent me a link that gives a virtual tour of her farm, which is aptly called Pearl Estate. It is for sale and is absolutely gorgeous! Here is the link and phone number in case you are interested in contacting the real estate agent:

I am always amazed at the extraordinary people I meet. They look fairly “ordinary,” but underneath that look is usually someone with a very interesting life. Pat is one of these people and meeting her inspires me to keep connecting with people in order to learn more about their lives. This is what Pat emailed me when I sent a draft of her Profile: “My enthusiasm is sustained through my moving around: seeing, learning
(and doing) new things.”

P.S. When I was a briefing leader for The Hunger Project and received a copy of Ending Hunger, there was a statement that I will always remember. There are three kinds of people in the world: those who make things happen, those who watch what happens, and those who say, What happened?” Pat is definitely someone who makes things happen! So glad we met.






20 thoughts on “Pat Pearlman: Gypsy Steward of the Earth

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