Goodbye, In Good Heart Farm
As of December 15th, I’ve spent a year on the farm. I’ve been part of all the human effort put into this land over the past 52 weeks, and even if I had given up all my hard-earned sleep I wouldn’t have time to write down everything I’ve done and seen.
I’ve built and rebuilt hoop houses destroyed by freak windstorms, untangled miles of drip tape and carried hundreds of pounds of weight bags in and out and around the fields. I’ve tossed a thousand forkfuls of compost and leaves. I’ve harvested several times my own weight in kale; I’ve picked vegetables in all kinds of weather, stripped down and dancing in a tropical rainstorm and huddled under a tiny plastic tunnel against sleet. I’ve killed and cleaned chicken carcasses and kept many more birds alive, feeding and watering them more mornings than not. I’ve towed the tractor with the truck so Ben could get it started and developed a habit of carrying a pocketknife in my bra. I’ve grown very uncomfortable in outfits other than workboots, a skirt, and a well-stained t-shirt.
I’ve gained an immense amount of knowledge: I know a hundred varieties of vegetables from their start as minuscule seeds to when they are harvestable. I’ve learned to make soil blocks in the proper mix and mash, thousands of quivering cubes of barely-coherent soil to cradle seeds as they become plants. I know a few common diseases and pests which threaten our crops, what conditions cause or mitigate them. I’ve come to know how to harvest, wash, pack, and transport everything we grow, and at least two ways to eat any of it.
It’s been a demanding year and a busy one, but a really lovely one, too. I’ve watched the swallows in the barn raise two grumpy-looking broods and the trees on the lawn fill with flitting bluebirds. I’ve waved hello to the red-tailed hawk in the oak and cheered for him through more than a few dogfights with the local crows. I’ve watched spring and summer’s progression of spiders and, in winter, miss their webs strung like damp stars between the trees. I’ve watched Elliott grow from a long-limbed baby only mobile through his bassinet to a far-ranging, tow-headed toddler who loves absolutely nothing in this world more than making Ben, Patricia, and I laugh.
I’ve had a lot of time, as I’ve worked, to think about where I fit in the world of agriculture, let alone the world at large, and I haven’t come up with a lot of definite answers. I know, however, that there’s soil under my skin (and most days all over it) and I am not leaving agriculture behind.
I am, however, leaving In Good Heart Farm. It’s bittersweet. I love this place, love Ben and Patricia and Elliott and Beth and her family; I love our CSA members and our Saturday market regulars. But of the many things I’ve learned here, it’s that the only constant is change: the crop, the weeds, the pests, the weather. It’s time for me to accept a change for myself, too.
I’ll be working on an urban farm in my next adventure, which will offer me the opportunity to learn farming on a very different scale, in a very different context. My move will also, hopefully, give me a little more time to write: essays farming and food, memories of my family, and all the stories I make up endlessly in my head and rarely ever commit to the screen. Hence the new website, which is a space all my own.
But as I push off the dock, I need to do something important and intimidating. A lot of things scare me–aliens, tornadoes, supermarket meat–but nothing reduces me to quaking terror quite like asking for help. Even so, here I am. I need your help. Pesky things like health insurance and student loans and eating demand money, and while I’m looking for a job–my resume can be seen under “Hire Me”–I’m also planning on offering my services as a freelance writer to farmers, restaurant owners, and others in the local food nexus.
If I’m going to succeed, now or ever, I need you: your presence and your attention. I need your feedback and your ideas, your introductions to farmers and restaurant owners who need somebody enthusiastic to write about their business every week or month. I need you, as brilliant and interesting and amazing as you are, just to be there for me.
In lieu of that, your money would be fine, too.
I need to replace my laptop, which has survived my thesis, a flight of stairs, and an accidental drowning but is becoming increasingly unreliable. I need to bridge the gap financially for my move; I need to be able to purchase health insurance and healthcare to continue to treat my anxiety and depression. I need to pay back my student loans like a responsible citizen. I sank a lot of money into my bees, and it’ll be awhile before I recoup that money, if at all.
If you’ve got an extra couple of bucks kicking around, I’d be honored by your help. Regardless, your friendship means the world to me.
(I’ve considered a kickstarter or something similar, but the truth is those campaigns are better for discrete projects. The only project I’ve got going on here is the project of most 26-year-olds, I guess–that is, myself.)
Thank you for your love and support over the past year. Here’s to 2014 and new adventures in food and farming.