To connect the community to plants, animals, and the lives around them and foster in all a sense of belonging and understanding of the ‘natural’ world.
Inspiring the community in the abundance that can be provided by the land and in our ability as humans to access that abundance with reciprocity and gratitude.
Joy. Partnership. Community. Gratitude. Reciprocity. Abundance.
How Do I Define My Values?
Joy - such a small word for such a big feeling. I define it best as the feeling of unbridled happiness that spills out of me when I find a tiny flower or plant that I haven’t greeted in a while and that I meet unexpectedly. I literally squeal, clap my hands, and bounce on my toes like a child on Christmas morning. That is my Happy Dance. My purest moment of joy. I feel I reserve it for the seedlings that first emerge from the soil in spring, the blooms that echo the brightness of summer, the seeds that promise new life in fall, and the cool winds of winter that tell us it is time to rest. But really, I dance it for all seedlings I see, all blooms I meet, and all seeds I find. And I smile when I feel them dance with me.
Partnership - (formerly Stewardship) for me the definition is the right action at the right time. You don’t prune a Rose in spring and if you wait too long to pick an Apple, it will be on the ground. Knowing when to do what requires observation and learning but also experimentation. Context in farming is key. Local geography, weather patterns, animal trails, timing of seed dispersal vary from one area to the next. Learning how to manage all the variables requires a partnership between you and all others that live on and around the farm. Why is it no longer stewardship? That word always felt a little off to me, not quite the way to describe my working relationship with the land. And relationship is key. We are in it together. A partnership, not a human who thinks she knows better and can steward the land. The term stewardship brings up thoughts and feelings of hierarchy and control, neither of which is the relationship humans should have with the land.
Community - in a culture that promotes independence and personal freedom, we are drawn back to community. The phrase goes that ‘No one is an island’ and this has always been true. Even the ‘self-sufficient’ humans, are not going it alone. They grow gardens, hunt, fish, and harvest timber from the forest. They are in a community with those plants and animals, the weather they endure, and the land they walk on. We need to start extending our idea of community beyond those that walk on two legs and speak complex languages. We need to acknowledge that the rocks, waters, trees, birds, and land are all within our community because we would not survive without them.
Gratitude - saying ‘Thank You’ is not just a phrase drilled into us by our parents and guardians, it is a feeling of expansiveness, an expression of love. It is the calm that sweeps over you after the wave of joy has passed. We are taught to say thank you to the giver of gifts that we receive. Once you know that every carrot, every sunset, every huckleberry is a sacrifice the plants, the sky, and the animals gift us so that everything may continue living, you yearn to say thank you for each and every one of those gifts, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
Reciprocity - if we are given a gift, don’t we owe something back? It doesn’t always have to be at the same place, at the same time, or even to the same gift-giver, but it should be returned so that someone, somewhere else can give a gift as well. It means we can sustain one another. If we take and never return, we run dry.
Abundance - Have you ever taken a large basket into the garden to harvest a small patch of lettuce? And found that you needed another basket, and another, and maybe another to fit it all in? In our age of lengthy supply chains, we rarely see where things come from or how they are produced, and in that gap we underestimate the possibility of abundance. Of enough to go around. Enough for everyone. We fear the possibility of lack and scarcity that we can imagine. Finding and creating abundance can frighten away that fear. It teaches that you have enough, that you are enough.