Of all the farm interviews I have done lately there is a recurring theme. Yes, farmers have a preference for a cubicle-less life and a calling to the dirt and sky and the gratification that comes from seeing the fruits of your labor in a direct way. But the common theme, aside from farming itself, is the desire to grow community. In each persons plan for growth and success is the creation of opportunities for participation and social gatherings around food.
Food goes beyond mere sustenance. Though that is a really nice bonus. Producing food creates a sense of pride and purpose, a caring for one’s surroundings. It brings people together to ease worries and celebrate joys. It can even inspire rapture of the reverent kind. And you don’t keep that sort of thing to yourself. This is the stuff for sharing.
Farming can also be lonely business. Maybe not so much lonely as solitary. Days of breathing and quiet contemplation engaging in the physical mantra of planting row upon row of peppers or creating sections of zen garden maps to the hum (or percussive clunk) of a tractor. This becomes balanced out by the pleasure on the faces of folks who see your bounty piled high on a farmer’s market table or taste a home cooked dish at a garden potluck. The conversations surrounding those things that are important to us and what we can do with them. It isn’t enough that I grow this eggplant. I need to show you how this eggplant can blow your mind and feed your soul. Maybe this is too romantic a notion. But farmers are a generous and romantic lot.
Having gardened and farmed in some aspect since I could eat dirt, I have teetered in this balance. I recommend the meditation of dirt under finger nails for providing perspective. I also recommend the coming together in bending and stooping alongside a volunteer crew trying to get fields planted in those gracious windows Spring provides.
In Northern Colorado we have so many opportunities for dirt therapy and community building. As often as I can I will let you know about them. However, you are in the wonderful position of living in a community where you can throw a stick and hit a farmer, not that I recommend trying that at home (the throwing of sticks and hitting of farmers). What I mean to say is, one can easily find an opportunity to nestle into this agricultural community whether it is by participating in farm events and dinners, fundraising for your favorite food providing charity or digging potatoes alongside your neighbors. Farming and the enjoyment that follows is a team sport my dears, and we are always recruiting. Not just farmers, but eaters and cookers and admirers and tomato sellers and problem solvers and coop builders.
And if you are suffering from your own case of ag-lust, you can always find some parcel to dig into and create a micro-community of your own. And find your own balance. You’ll find you become a community grower yourself. Amen to that!
Yours in dirt – e