9 days of work and 11 days of living. That is all the time that I have left here in the farmhouse that has become my home over the past 11 months. I've spent the last few weeks moving quickly, filling my minutes, because the moment that I stop I come to feel the weight of what I am walking away from, and it is quite difficult to bear. It was not an easy decision to leave this beautiful place, this joyful and supportive community, this trying and rewarding work. But sometimes there are moments of clarity when we realize that it is time to share what it is that we have learned, rather than to stay comfortably put. I recall a conversation I had a few months ago with Tezzo, one of the South Central farmers. He asked me what all of the interns were doing after the year ended. As I was about to respond, he said, "You're all going off to start your own farms, right?" He believes, as I do, that our farms and the communities that are supported by them are not isolated occurrences, but rather signs of a movement, a movement that we hope to see grow. So that is what I am doing. I'm following the movement. I'm hoping to discover it and play my part in furthering it in new places.
Yesterday I finished my application for a farm job in Arizona. The farmer I'm hoping to work for asked me to write my agricultural "mission" statement, basically a collection of my farming experiences, educational knowledge base, and vocational aspirations. I can think of no better way to sum-up what it is I am taking away from this year than with the final paragraph of that piece.
"Through learning, through working, through failures and successes, I hope to be able to learn enough to start-up small-scale, truly sustainable farms in and near urban areas. How many, I cannot yet say. But I know that I want the fruit of these farms to provide food security and food access to people regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. These farms will incorporate permaculture design techniques with animal husbandry, biodynamic, and integrated pest management practices so as to conserve water and not rely heavily on outside inputs to maintain the health of the soil and plants. These farms will save seeds when they can and strive to grow heirloom varieties in the hope of preserving crop diversity. I wish for these farms to be economically viable, to provide living wages to those who work them full time. It seems that I want it all. And I do. I want to continue to work with and learn from those who are actually living my dream, so that I may one day be able to teach others. This organic farming thing that we are doing is all-consuming, time and work and labor intensive, unpredictable, insecure, and (from the outside) quite foolish. But we on the inside know that there is something old that we are remembering. We know that there is honor in working the land, in growing food, in preserving Earth, in providing for our families. I want to be a part of sharing and practicing that knowledge. That is my work."
This year I discovered my vocation: to be a thought-full farmer. Though my time as an intern with the Abundant Table Farm Project is ending, what I have learned, what we all have learned, this year is only beginning. The farm goes on! Food continues to grow! The soil continues to live! We all continue to feast. It has been a joy working with, eating with, and rejoicing with you. This is my best year, my fullest year, the year where I came to honestly know and love myself. This is the year I found peace with God. This is the year that I discovered family in 4 strangers. This is the year, but it's only the beginning. There will be many more to come, for all of us interns and for all of you. This year has changed us all.
Should you like to keep up on my adventures, feel free to peruse my personal blog. I was rather infrequent with my postings over the last 11 months, but I can only imagine that I will have a great deal more time for writing and processing living in the basement of my parents' house in Arizona. And if this is where we part, know that I will continue to remember you and this place and this year. I will re-member in thought and in practice. Blessings. Peace. Joy. Gratitude.
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