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Fruits of our labor

Posted 9/12/2016 6:25pm by Shiloh Avery.


We don’t make much money.  Not of the tangible paper green stuff, anyway.  It’s not a secret, but also not a big deal or a “topic of discussion” or an “actionable item”.  It’s just the way it is.  And we continue to choose to do this.  “Why?” you ask.  “The fruits of our labor,” I answer.

I call it the “fringe benefits of farming”.  This is how we think about organic growing.  It’s a whole system approach with many little parts.  We manage the farm as a whole living, breathing thing, rather than looking narrowly at each crop.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, we look at each crop, but we also look at each crop within the context of the whole farm organism.  For example, we are extremely interested in the health of Tumbling Shoals Creek (which runs through the middle of the farm) because it actually affects the health of our farm organism.  We did some creek restoration and planted 700 or so native wetland plants in the riparian zone.  Did this directly affect the kale crop?  Well, not in so many words, but the native flowering plants created an attractive habitat and food for the native trichogramma wasp which, in an act of reproduction, parasitizes the caterpillars that feed on our kale.  This is what I mean when I answer the question “what is organic?” with “it’s a whole system approach”.

We think about our lives within this same context.  We are running a business that requires both our physical body and our minds (so we should never get dementia right?).  We are managing all aspects of the farm from planting and harvesting beans to counting beans (ha! Get it?!).  As an integral part of this farm ecosystem, we need to stay healthy.  The first step to staying healthy is eating well.  And boy, do we eat well.  Most evenings, while I sit tap-tapping away at the computer in some form or another of business management, Jason is preparing a wonderful meal from ingredients we grew on our farm, or that our friends and neighbors grew.  It was Virginia Woolf who said, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”  Check.

Another step to health is physical exercise, of which, there is plenty to engage in on the farm.  It is, after all, a physical labor sort of job.  So, check. Mental health is another aspect of the whole human organism.  If you’ve been reading this a lot this year, you may have noticed a focus on “seizing the moment”.  We’ve been working on letting some things go, or at least letting them wait, while we seize an opportunity to relax or play.  It’s a work in progress, to be sure, but we’re improving every day. So, check (kind of).

So this is why we continue to choose to do this, despite the tiny margins and tiny bank account.  This is what I mean by the fruits of our labor, or the fringe benefits of farming.  Quite literally the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor, but also the physical and mental well-being that comes with breathing clean air, staying physically active, connecting with the earth, and being present in the world.


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