Farming, Part 2.
Posted On May 12, 2013
Back at the home site, we've begun our assumption of this new farm, and it sparked a lot of good thought and change. The first big change is the dissolution of our two urban farms into one. We all feel very strongly about each other and this partnership we have between our two families. It's grown to a point where we all are consciously committed to each others families and we don't feel the need to stay separate businesses anymore. Our separate microgreen business is rolling right into it, and now we are simply "Triple Tree Farm". We're finishing up our logo and have plans to update the website too.
There are several farming/homesteading pioneers that I've studied who have really inspired me. The two that always readily come to mind are Helen and Scott Nearing. They returned to the land in the 1930s, when they were in their 50s. They worked to homestead and be incredibly productive for the next 50 years! Amazing people, truly. But one of the things I've paid attention to was their approach to their work and their lives. They were very methodical people, coming up with all sorts of rules and ideas about how things should be done. I don't agree with everything they said, but the fact remains- they pulled it off. One of the things they did was split up their time into distinct areas- most notably, they only did 4 hours of physical work a day. All the farming and building and everything they accomplished was done in only 4 hours a day, and they did it until they were 100 years old.
This got me thinking a lot about our approach to this way of life. We are all conscious of the fact that we are just starting out, and we don't actually rely on this income yet. So, we have a lot of mobility in terms of how we go about making that living we so desire. We don't want to find ourselves bone tired one of these days and wondering what we're doing this for. We're starting with intention, caution, honesty, and rigorous integrity.
The first way that this focus has affected our start has more to do with the spirit of our operation. We've had a couple of uncomfortable situations to face- one where a business wasn't keeping their end of a deal and we had to confront them about it. They believed they were doing us a favor simply by selling our produce and helping us get started. Soon enough we found ourselves in the awkward position of knowing we'd been wronged and having to check them on it. We knew we might lose the account as a result, because essentially we were asking for money that we were owed and blatantly calling them dishonest in this interaction. My heart pounded during that phone call, but we'd all talked about it and agreed we were willing to lose their business. We agreed that we had a choice, and money was never worth any kind of abuse. We didn't need the business, and we didn't want to need it in the future if it meant compromising our ethics. Thankfully, the confrontation went well. We got multiple apologies and the full amount of money we were owed. We now have great solid sales through that business. The second time we were working with a chef who was very gruff and unpleasant to deal with. The chef consistently was pushy and entitled and we were always feeling anxious about it, despite the fact that this chef really inspired us to produce a really great product that we had pride in. In the end, that relationship ended over silly details. It was not a small account to us, but it was one that we were relieved to lose. We questioned ourselves briefly and wondered if we should kiss the proverbial behind to keep the account, and we decided not to. Not two weeks later we had landed a new restaurant account that is just leaps and bounds better. The staff is friendly and helpful, they even like that we're small and local and real.
The other day Jeff was talking to me about how he didn't want us to compromise our ethics when it came to anything. He said "our home is more than just brick and mortar." It was all very profound and we went on to discuss the cycle of energy in all that we do- it's the what-we-put-in-will-be-what-we-receive kind of revelation that all feels very promising and right. Anyway. We're chipping away at this thing, but I suppose the point I'm making is that our process feels integral to our potential success. We want to stay on the path, not scrambling for a future that might not even fulfill.
The next way that this focus has impacted our approach is in a much more practical way. We simply don't want to work ourselves silly, and so we are planning no more than 4 hours of farm work per person per day, just like the Nearings did. We all have jobs and other things going on and can't do that yet every day, so the rule for now is that if we have that time available and have the energy to do it, we do. The idea is that the operation will grow into something that is truly sustainable for us.
Above is a picture of the hoop, all planted up by our new farmer friend. We are so excited about it. Yesterday we planted what will be thousands of pounds of food, out in the raised beds outside of the hoop (the whole farm is a bit more than an acre of cultivated space). We ended the morning with big happy sighs and smiles. We munched on bolting mustard out of the hoop and felt joyful. Brett shared a dream he had, where he was looking down from above at all of us working on the farm, all doing our own thing, but with purpose. He described it simply and seemed so happy. His vision made us all smile.
Oh and the kids? They are mostly filthy and/or sun-kissed.
I don't think they mind a bit.