Do you all remember when we launched a farmraiser, complete with a party and a crowdfunding campaign?
It’s been a deliciously full six months. So much has changed in that time: the carrots were planted, they germinated, we weeded them a time or two, and now we just started to harvest them. Before the carrots were planted, there was a whole farm to create from scratch: a deer fence, greenhouse, yurt, and giant refrigerator all exist now. And those things wouldn’t matter or make sense if it weren’t for the lifeblood of the farm: a well, and electricity to pump it. And even those things wouldn’t be if it weren’t for this silly thing called landownership, this relationship between the land and a person or several that, in this day and age, is made real by an exchange of a lot of money.
And while we’re building a story backwards, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention mention all kinds of people making space for me in their homes, a year’s worth of Monday night meetings about what it means to be community, several landowners over the course of four years offering use of their land to a beginning farmer, a place called Decorah that seems like a good place to be.
The path of this farm so far, and my personal path, has been beset with gifts. Incredibly tangible gifts, from kitchen utensils to a tractor to a yurt to live in. Gifts of labor—I can’t thank you enough, yurt builders, greenhouse coverers, cheerful weeders and waterers. Gifts of money: a girl can’t put in a 360-foot well without plenty of that! The gift of receiving: thank you, CSA members and farmer’s market customers, for connecting to our work through the food that we grow! And those intangible gifts, that emotional labor of listening, encouraging, advising, allowing, being a shoulder to cry on: this farm would not exist without you, dear community.
I trust each of you to know that I am grateful for your gifts to Humble Hands Harvest and to me.
I want to make clear, too, that though the changes to this place in the last six months look huge, and are huge, there is so much more to be done. We’ve planted some trees. There are many, many more to plant. The soil here will take a lifetime of improvement, of bringing carbon down out of the atmosphere and into the living earth through the miracles of photosynthesis and decomposition. There is so much spiritual work to be done as we farmers get the lucky job of being the closest connection between many people and the land that gives them life, just as we are the stewards of seeds that carry so much human ingenuity and history and culture in their genetics.
There are not words enough to thank you all for the diverse parts you have played in this journey. In some ways, we are lucky that words fail: my gratitude must be lived out in actions. I am honored to be able to give to this land, to the hope of a livable future, and to this human community and world in my way. Thank you for letting me ask boldly and take risks with your gifts and mine. May we all gather in what we are offered, transform it with our gifts, and fling it back to the universe with boldness and love and wholeness and abundance! It’s a grand thing, what we can create together.
Harvesting carrots for the first time of the season is one of the most joyous occasions. Here we’ve been drowning in greens for weeks and weeks, every beautiful shade of green you can imagine and then some, loving that but dreaming that someday another color might show up to complement it. And I know what the color orange looks like, but it’s not until I stick my digging fork into the earth next to those frilly, unassuming green carrot tops and lift up that I really remember: ORANGE! It jumps for joy out of the soil, full of sweetness and exuberance and surprise.
There is no better time to thank you all than carrot time, because the process of building this farm can be described just as I described that first carrot harvest. (There are, of course, some cracked and rotten carrots in the mix too, but most of them aren’t that way, and even the cracked ones are still beautifully orange.) I don’t have exactly the words to tell you how much joy I felt when Hannah asked me to join in her vision on this piece of land, or when I realized, and kept realizing, and am still realizing, how much support there is in this community for us and farmers like us. This place is special – where else could you invite people to your birthday party and get them to weed for a few hours? Where else could you put out the ask for building materials, advice, monetary donations, helping hands, and have it answered again and again and again? And how lucky am I, a brand new farmer full mostly just of dreams and ideas, to be trusted with such an important thing as caring for a piece of land? I am continually surprised and overjoyed by what I have found in Decorah, and I am so excited to give back what I can in thanks: my time and love to this land, and my vegetables and smiles to you all. These are very simple things to offer, but the sun and the rain are simple things too, and look what they can create!
With all of my joyful, carroty orange-ness,