Here at the farm, I find myself at a peculiar crossroads. I am realizing many dreams all at once, and find that keeping those dreams going is its own workload unto itself.
I am teaching and farming, doing both but not at the same time. They both are deserving of full-time attention, and leave me feeling that my life is fulfilling. But this balancing act cannot continue indefinitely.
The original purpose of our farm, as our mission states, has been to increase Rockingham County’s biodiversity and feed the population. We have been steadily working at both, and, since its inception, succeeding (we celebrate small successes here). My purest passion is researching – trying out new and different plants, in varying combinations, to see which ones work to increase soil fertility, feed the bees, and feed the chickens. I have tried different cultivation methods, from alley cropping to agroforestry, no-till to no-weeding, and always chemical-free. This year has even seen a drop in our consumption of organic fertilizer. This research will continue, and the feeding of our community will continue.
The only question is, in what capacity? For once, my long-term vision is more clear than my short-term. I know that in 15 years we will have ten-foot chestnuts and elderberries and gojis, but I don’t know where I’ll be in two weeks – selling at the Saturday market or taking the surplus to the soup kitchen, or preparing the newest beds for our trials of native legumes? I just don’t know. And I am excited by this not-knowing.
At market, I have a very small group of loyal, supportive customers, who visit and are not shy about saying hi and chatting for a minute or two. This is one of my greatest joys – exchanging ideas about growing, harvesting, or preparing produce from the garden. Showing people the latest thing I’ve pulled out of the ground, or put in the ground. Reveling in the vicissitudes of Mother Nature as time marches onward.
So all I ask, of myself, and of my friends, and of my plants, is bear with us. The adventure has only just begun, and we’re all in this together.