Our Story

I, James Lee and my wife, Linda Norris have a philosophy in life which is centered around the idea that all human beings are connected – what happens to one of us affects all of us. When others thrive and prosper, we all benefit. We put this idea in a plan to help others succeed knowing that putting our efforts in this direction will be much more satisfying than pursuing wealth.

Beginning in 1975, starting a free clinic while in medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico and then for 40 years volunteering at clinics and homeless shelters serving lower income MSP/St Paul residents, we have experienced the joy that comes with helping our neighbors do better in so many small ways. Along with so many other like-minded people, we have and continue to help others in various ways.

In 2004, we were able to buy a farm in Pepin, Wisconsin, and fulfilled a love of planting by starting a vineyard there in 2007. It became immediately obvious that working full-time and tending to a vineyard without a lot of help was not happening, so we decided to start a “Charitable Vineyard” - Lost Creek Hippies Vineyard,  devoting all income (actually all revenue since the income was so sparse!) to 3 designated charities.  Since 2010 we have  raised money to donate to theses charities through sale of our grape and apple harvests and fund-raising events.

In 2007, our vineyard began with 200 vines and over 3 years it grew to 1600 vines on 5.5 acres. We had 4 productive harvests;  2009 – 2013 – producing Marquette and Prairie Star grapes, which we sold to local wineries. We received many days of hard work planting and picking from more than 150 volunteers. Several Board Members spent many days pruning, hedging, mowing and spraying in this joint effort. Working with one key Board Member, we started this website and use it as a way to communicate our progress and events.

In 2013, the vineyard developed a serious fungal and parasite infection issue, largely related to our inability to monitor and attend to the vineyard on a daily basis as we do not live at our Pepin farm, only spending time working in the Twin Cities. The trunks and cordons of the vines became damaged and in 2014 we discontinued the vineyard operations and began an apple orchard at a different location on the very same farm. We have slowly developed our orchard with MacIntosh and Honeycrisp apple trees. We now have 35 trees, 4 of which are productive. So far, we have donated our Fall apple harvests to the Pepin grade school for the students to take home.

However, most importantly we have continued our efforts in raising donations to our 3 designated charities through a Fall FUN(d) Raising Party, held for the past 7 years on the second Saturday in September. It has become a day of fun, games, conversation, dinner and a bottle of our Altered States Apple Wine to all who attend. This event has turned out to be not only a great pleasure for us in reconnecting with so many who have helped us through the years, but also financially for our 3 charities. Over the years various representatives of the charities have been able to attend and let us know more about their wonderful work in helping our local and international neighbors achieve and prosper. We will continue to hold this event as long as we physically can,  although more and more relying on the help of our family and friends.

Again, we believe that we human beings  are all ultimately connected and what we do affects others. Seeing ourselves as separate is an optical delusion of the consciousness (as Albert Einstein said).  This concept is so eloquently expressed by One Human Family (Key West, Florida):

Like fingers on a hand

We are all different and unique

We are all of equal value

We are all created to work together

And although we appear separate, we are all linked to and a part of each other

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