Seeds of Hope Farm Co-Op Members,
The season has truly turned and its changes are upon us. As the leaves fall and the year’s growth settles into place, I too must recognize my own need for transition, and will be leaving my position as manager of Seeds of Hope Farm. Five full growing seasons ago I took this position at project inception, having no idea where it would lead, how much it would help me grow personally, or the richness that would develop from the relationships it has formed; in and outside of me. While there is far too much worthwhile experience and too many lessons to recount and express, a few reflections are in order to share with followers of this farm. It wasn’t until after writing these reflections I noticed that they parallel the three base tenants of permaculture: Care of Earth, Care of People, and Share of Surplus (or setting limits) Over the next couple weeks I will be posting some of these, along with wheree I’m headed, and hope that you will follow along, helping this farm to build more community in two neighborhoods where it is so desperately needed. For today, I list where such a foundation for any such endeavor must start, continue, and end: Gratitude.
As I age I feel more sure in many ways. But when it comes to sharing the gratitude that working toward a more just foodshed has brought to me, I’m not even sure where to start. Or even less so, where to end. So I’ll start in February, 2012: Thanks to Brett, for telling me to apply. To my friends and family, somehow not only tolerated but supported me through my work-crazed beginnings; To Community Action, its staff, board, and supporters, for creating and continuing this program that literally, from a converted little churchyard and a little piece of a park, feeds many. To each of the apprentices I’ve worked with. What I’ve learned from each of you I doubt I can ever repay. From each of you I have learned to be a teacher, a confidant, a leader, a maker and owner of mistakes, and a friend. I thank Jehad, Whitney, Evan, Cody, Jake, Sara, and now Rae, for their help, devotion, and efforts despite sometimes being over 100 degrees or 12 hours into a day. I send thanks to our sponsors over the years, who have shared so that others may have that which they too deserve. I thank our low-income members for having faith we would provide what we had promised, and for taking ownership of their food and placing value where they have. I thank Karen Davis and Miranda Duschack who gave me a clue and helped steer me through the first couple of years, and SLUG, and Pastor Paul for whom without this project wouldn’t exist; the shade of the oak trees in Spanish Lake, who shelter us and bring daily beauty and relief from sun, Kenny, for being a man of his era, the people at St Peter’s Lutheran and Helping Hands food pantry, Angelique for watering and freeing our weekends, and the list could seemingly go on forever, but would be very incomplete without direct recognition of a certain few.
I am especially grateful to my supervisor, Georgie Donahue, for her passion and devotion to this project, and to her everlasting faith in me. She is the first person to have given me a great deal of responsibility, or a true promotion, and I hope I have served her well. Georgie’s leadership has allowed me to push the edge, create, drive, and recover when I have failed. She has been a teacher to me in ways of management and tolerance. She has always, while recognizing my many mistakes and shortcomings, built my confidence and make me want to work harder for her.
To Deidre Kelly, for cultivating my sense of gratitude, giving me so many tools in communication, demonstrating the importance of organizing and planning, bringing the teens, and helping me set my perfectionist tendencies aside to again realize my deep want of becoming a teacher.
And perhaps most of all to Randy. Who has so many times been the wiser. Who has been the clutch. And the quiet, thoughtful voice behind Seeds of Hope Farm. Who got the reports in. Who saved my tail innumerable times. Who knew the line. And who, after my move, I will miss, so so dearly.
I find that when allow myself to fully acknowledge the source of this gratitude, I need look no farther than the ground beneath my feet. And whether the feeling seems far away, or, I am filled with such an upwelling of gratefulness that I feel my heart and chest cannot possibly contain it, I simply drop my knees to the earth. This gesture inherently brings a feeling of humility and recognition, as I am closer to that which directly supports and carries me through every day. From this place, I can clearly feel my place in the world, and be of better service to myself and others in it.