And other small truths.
Back in the day (I turn thirty this year, so I can say that, right?) I used to pick out crops and animals with how practical they would be to grow and raise. Do these chickens produce as enough to justify the feed bill? Does this tomato capitalize the space it's given? You wouldn't catch me growing froo-froo melons or low production berries. I thought those things were reserved to the privileged. We were poor, and I refused to "waste" time and money growing for beauty and pleasure.
Today, what feeds my family and my soul alike is our community, not my rigid refusal to grow fun things. No, I don't mean we live off of donations. We have found ourselves surrounded by people who truly embrace us and our ability to grow food. Friends trust us to put food on their table, not only that, but they trust us with entire seasons. Our CSA shares doubled this year, with repeat customers and new members alike.
Now, I find myself growing things for the sake of love. It's a little more expensive, sure, but it's far more fruitful. Today, I picked out a basil seed that I just know will produce so much extra that I can spend an entire day in the kitchen making pesto with my best friend. I bought Casper Kale thinking about how last winter, Shana grew it and how lovely it was. I found a particularly beautiful eggplant and bought it for the joy the crop will bring Patricia, who has gone above and beyond in her support of our humble CSA beginnings. I found a really fun new fruit Bev will love. She is the most fun member of our CSA share and greets every new weird vegetable or herb I put in her basket with a smile, quick google search, text for confirmation and then blesses me with pictures of her creations.
The cucamelons certainly will look precious stuffed into the pockets of my chiddlers, and of those who visit us this year. There was a certain level of validation when I purchased a zinnia seed in the exact shade a friend has picked for her wedding colors. I could go on and on and buy a different variety for every person I know, and there is such wonder in that! To be able to connect the seeds not only to their resulting crop, but to grow them knowing already to whom they'll bring the most joy is a privilege I can't imagine living without now.
This support and love doesn't end with seeds, that is only the beginning. Rob and Sylina haven't missed a single chicken season yet, and cheer us on as we wade through the hardest farm days. One of our friends has been taking eggs to his mom all the way to Virginia Beach, and another bought a pork share for his parents. Our down-the-road neighbors buy our fresh baked pretzels on the regular and constantly gift us with materials for carving and building.
This past year I spent Thanksgiving in tears. Not because it was the first year spent without nearly 30 guests, but because we were apart of SO many celebrations. Before you light the torches and sharpen the pitchforks, we weren't out dinner hopping in the middle of a pandemic. The food we spent hot July days and cold March mornings planting, alongside the turkeys and chickens we raised on fresh grass and sunshine allowed us the massive honor of being apart of one of the most important meals of the year. Picture after picture, text after text, flooded in from several states and more than a dozen Thanksgiving meals our friends were enjoying. I cannot think of a more cup-filling act than to be allowed to take up a small corner of that many tables with food we grew.
With all of this in mind, I wake up each day and think about how I can grow, bake, and create for so many of these people that selflessly support us.
Now that our farm has grown beyond our immediate friend group, and has spilled out into the community to people who know not the love I already have for them, I get to spend another season getting to know what brightens their day. Who is okay with a loaf of bread surprising them on their doorstep, and who is gluten intolerant, who adores a bouquet with their weekly share and who spirals into sneezes at the thought of pollen. (Fun fact: I bought a pollenless sunflower to grow this year for those people!)
Each week our wealth grows as we meet new people who love feeding people good, nutritious food as much as we do. This community continues to nurture us, invest in us, and support us, and I am so in love.