This is the year that we farm full time.
*There were days when I couldn't look my kids in the eyes because the regrets were so big.
*We would sit in silence hoping that someone would speak words of life, but they never did.
*We were working hard like a mouse on a wheel without accomplishing any of the things most important to us.
*The days, weeks, months and years were slipping away.
But as it almost always happens the hurting, hard days made us stronger. We came out on the other side ready to give it a try. There was nothing left to lose. We had the courage to say yes to what our hearts were trying to convince our minds to do.
Community (from a different angle)
Had we dug into how we felt two years ago we would have sold everything, moved to a farm in the middle of nowhere, grown food to feed ourselves and a few others willing to seek us out. Now we know that wasn't the calling for us. You may be reading this and feel that it is your calling to which we say "good for you". Seriously. We are so happy and even slightly jealous for people who are called to live like that. We always thought it would be the way for us.
The truth is that we have been able to combine our past lives with our current ones in order to see this whole simple living, sustainability thing as something for everyone. It's not all or nothing, not for most people anyway. The resources that are in place through the local school systems, health departments, universities, non-profits and organizations are complex, but important. We worked for them and have seen the ways that everyday people can find them useful and allow them to work for them. We've been able to become a common ground voice in order to make strides in connection for our community. We've been blessed to serve others and to be served in return.
When it came time for Elizabeth to start eating solid foods I couldn't help but ask myself "what foods are as good, wholesome and perfect as this milk my body has made for her"? Nathan was selling watermelons at a local farmers market and I began buying food from the farmers. Betsy & Steve, Thomas, Bobby. We began finding sources for milk, cheese, bread, and meats. This deep connection to my family sent me searching connection to my community through food. We began growing more and more of our own food with a desire to be able to share it with others.
When it became time for our fourth child to be born we chose to hire a certified midwife and give birth at home. Being low risk, informed and fully prepared allowed us to have a beautiful birth experience that our entire family shared. My hope is that our birth experience will leave a deep imprint on our children's life allowing them to find grace and peace when they have children of their own. And I hope that it has also helped women in our community find what they have been looking for as they become mothers.
I'm thankful for the people that we have in our lives. Too many to name, living all over the world, and all called to different ways of living, but a blessing on us each and every day. I'm thankful for farmers who are willing to work really hard every day of the week for people who just buy a coupe of vegetables on Saturday or for those who buy almost all of their food locally. I'm thankful for the government that is full of real people with names and interests and most importantly have a sense of humor. I'm thankful for artists willing to pour their heart and soul into something and then share it with the world. I'm thankful for moms, dads and people who care about these babies being born into our world who will one day be making all of the decisions that we are making now.
Most of all I'm thankful for forgiveness. To those who watched us change, sometimes drastically and overnight, thank you for for patiently allowing (and forgiving when needed) our questioning, retreating, and even anger at times. It's how we found the courage to do what we are doing now. It's how we found patience, understanding and caring of each new person we encounter. We really don't know what's left in this life for us. Will we always Need More Acres? We just don't know. But I do know that we hope to learn to love better, give more freely and more willingly accept those things from others.
A few thoughts from Nathan
“Growing up on a small tobacco farm in Central Kentucky, it seems I have always had Kentucky soil under my fingernails and in my veins. I have grown up knowing that the seeds of spring pay the bills of fall and all the hardships and joys that come in between. We small farmers choose to farm for the friendships, community, and an honest way of life. I left the family farm for higher education and spent 11 years of my life working for the horticulture department at the University of Kentucky. In those 11 years, I helped many small family farms fight to offset the income loss of tobacco with vegetable production. Some failed and some succeeded, but in helping these families across Kentucky, I have come to realize that farmers have a greater picture of life than just the bottom line of a business plan. They want to feel value in what they are doing and worthy of their spot in the world. Whether organic, conventional, or somewhere in between, all small farmers are seeing the same struggles of living out a dream of a sustainable way of life. This is where my passion for farmers markets and other local food production has grown. It’s a great way to connect consumers to producers of all kinds and neighbors are helping neighbors in what is a true profit margin.” Nathan
It doesn't make sense
It would be easy to get overwhelmed at the risks and hurdles that must be approached in order to make a more fluid local food system. Instead I'm keeping my eyes focused on what brought me on this journey to begin with.
A stronger connection to my family through cooking together in the kitchen and shared meals at the table, getting to know my farmers as we gather milk, meat, bread, cheese, and other foods from 30 miles on all sides of us. Sharing the food that we love to grow with a handful of families looking to do the same. Believing that all people (no matter their age, lifestyle, location, or bank balance) could benefit from all of these things as well. Encouraged by the partnerships formed among those willing to negotiate and work together for a common goal no matter their personal opinion. And how blessed I am to have some amazing chefs & home cooks around me willing to share their tips and ideas as I learn my way through farm to table. For real food inspiration go here.