The snow is melting off the mountain as I sit here finalizing my crop plan for the approaching growing season. A new season, a fresh start, a return home and a new beginning on this journey of finding place. It was over five years ago that I uprooted myself from a comfortable life in Boulder, Colorado to venture around North America (with Outstanding in the Field) in search of beautiful farms, tasty food, new friends, and a sense of self and feeling of home. Along that journey I explored this beautiful country and after two years of meandering, settled into a community of young farmers in the Hudson Valley, New York that I am humbled to call friends and mentors. With the intention to volunteer for one month, I stayed at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture working in the field and greenhouse for 2+ years as a volunteer, apprentice and Greenhouse Fellow. The second I set foot on the land I recognized a community to grow with and a place to learn from that is unparalleled to anything I could have ever imagined. It was in this place that I learned the basics of farming: from crop planning, soil health, cultivation, harvest, storage, marketing, to restaurant and CSA relations; and more importantly about community, friendship, observation, stillness, dedication, and stewardship. There are many experiences we have, some significant, some less so, but all are moments on our path and it is during times of new growth and beginnings that I often find myself reflecting on this journey.
I recently had the privilege of attending the Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis, Oregon, (February 3-5, 2016) three full days of inspiration, stories, lessons, tips, tricks, demonstrations, connections and conversations about organic seed production, organic plant breeding, enterprise development, seed policy and everything in between. There are many highlights from that conference to reflect upon but one that shines brightly in my heart is walking up to a gathering at Frank Morton’s house (renowned plant breeder, of Wild Garden Seed) to be greeted by Nash Huber (esteemed farmer and seed producer, of Nash’s Organic Produce) sitting on the porch with shoes off, beer in hand and face smiling at the sun, directing me to the kitchen that was full of the best organic seed producers, sellers and breeders in the country. Imagine looking at your bookshelf full of all your favorites and walking into a room filled with the authors that wrote those very words, or your favorite chefs cooking all of your favorite dishes for you. This is what it was like to enter that space, to be in the presence of the greatest in the craft that I am just now entering. It is their words and wisdom that I will draw from and those same words that filled a room to its seams, overflowing into the hallway, of eager seed farmers straining to be a part of the “Conversations with Elders” session at the conference. It is moments like these in which my gratitude overflows for those that have worked tirelessly before me, have carved their own paths on their own journeys and make it possible for us all to create our own, knowing we have the support and guidance of the many that came before and that will continue after.
And it is with the utmost respect and admiration that I thank my original teacher, Jack Algiere, Farm Director at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture who demonstrated and shared his skills, knowledge and experiences. From whom I am still learning from conversations we’ve shared as ‘answers’ continue to reveal themselves months and years after the questions were first asked. Identifying the moments that shape us, the connections that support us and finding the space to recognize our teachers I am excited to begin to set roots again in Colorado, with a renewed love for place and feeling of home. Each day home has revealed a new opportunity and it is from this mindset and experience that new teachers are revealing themselves and connections are being made. The opportunity to work with Jared Hagood of Lineage Seeds, as ‘First Mate’ and ‘Trials and Seed Production manager’ is one that I still have to pinch myself to make sure is a reality, and has helped open the door to grow at Lone Hawk Farm as a part of the Sun Farm Gardener’s Coop, where I will be growing primarily for Salto Coffee Works as well as Lone Hawk’s farm stand as the Farm Owner of Farm n’ Wild Wellspring. If there weren’t enough beauty in these connections and relationships, as the ‘Flower Harvest manager’ for Rise and Shine Farm I will have the opportunity to collect the beauty from below while being able to look up at the beautiful Boulder Flatirons above.
As I gather seeds and prepare for the start of the growing season, I offer the most gratitude to these packets of life that have been my greatest teacher, and am thankful for the journey they have made, the lessons they have learned from their elders and the knowledge they share, openly and freely. Here’s to a new beginning and years of growth and learning, beauty and connection. With love and gratitude.