Farm Notes

A raw rebirth

Hello, out there. It’s been a while. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to ponder my thoughts through the movement of my fingers over keys in a manner that cultivates my mind rather than renders it seated.

Seated – in the bathroom, on the toilet, scrolling through my Instagram feed is when the news became apparent. My very favorite poet, Mary Oliver, passed today. I have not yet read a news article, I have not yet checked the news today for I have been working at my off-farm remote farm law job (which I love very much), so I do not yet know the details. I have not yet made time for the details.

All I know regarding the matter is that I read the news after scrolling mindlessly through posts without reading, and once I began to actually read I realized that I have gotten away from reading, writing, and myself, in part – the part of me that loves, requires, and desires to read and write, as I grow.

For those of you who follow the farm blog, hello again, it’s nice to be back here with you.

For those of you who don’t but might follow along someday and might be reading these words then: hello, welcome. This is a space of sharing and healing for me (relocated from my previous blog Our Hungry Food), as I write to share my muses, ponderings, and wanderings of life here on the farm.

When the New Year began, my partner Les and I made the seemingly courageous decision to break up with Facebook. I say courageous because we both are small business owners, he an artist and me a farmer, and breaking away from the main free resource that connects us with the wider world and drives traffic and support to our life’s work is a pretty stinking huge deal – or at least, that’s what social media culture has conditioned us to believe.

Social media. The way we keep in touch with family and friends. The way we share our thoughts on everything from our basic human rights to our favorite travels (with photos and sometimes videos, too). It’s the way we show off. The way we dump off steam. The way we network. The way we get our news. The way we obsess over each other as we obsess over ourselves in some way furthering our awareness but lessening our view.

What’s there to like?

I had decided I was tired of it. I didn’t make a big announcement on my page before deleting my Facebook account, I just did it. But I kept my Instagram. I enjoy the photos, farm accounts, and friends who seem to share more thoughtfully there. However, the discrepancy in my approach to cultivating a healthier relationship with social media became apparent – I was there but not there. I saw the photo of a hand printed card by a local artist that I love with Mary Oliver’s most famous quoted line:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

But I did not read the caption that shared the 13 words sharing the sad news.

How funny. Mary speaks to me now after having not read into and through this jarring experience of peeing while reading and realizing then crying. What exactly is it that I will do with this one wild and precious life?

Well, my intention is to pay more attention – to be more present. To do what I love, which is to grow, read, write, and teach.

As Mary writes, “You do not have to crawl on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” 

To which I hear, I only have to let myself love what I love…

Mary Oliver, I love your writing. Heartstrong Farm, I love your land and community. Les Caison, I love your creative spirit and heart. Family, I love you near and far. Teaching and advocacy, I love you especially hard. Reading and writing, my other loves, here we are.

In 2017, After the first couple of months living on the farm, I tragically lost our cat Archie to the pace of Highway 64. I loved that cat. He walked up to my aunt and uncle’s home on the Chesapeake Bay, innocently yet purposefully one Easter morning almost 9 years ago now. He was all fur and snuggles, with a good hunting habit and a penchant for warm bellies.

After finding Archie along the highway and cradling him back to and into the land, I read over him

A Pretty Song:

From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.

Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?
This isn’t a playground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.

Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods
that hold you in the center of my world.

And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song,
And I say to my heart: rave on.

This song seems especially apropos now, as I ponder the absence of someone I have never met who has shaped so much of who I know myself to be today.

Life is a complicated love, but thankfully to love it there is no one way.

Thank you Mary Oliver, for inspiring so many of us through dark and light – and speaking comfort and inspiration into your fresh absence. From your passing, a love of mine is reborn – and how lovely for it to be one of words.

– E

 

 

Growing goodness

Happy Spring, dear friends! I cannot express to you all just how excited I am to share those words with you – “happy Spring!” I believe some sentiments cannot be contained by the written word, nor should they. The feeling of seeing red buds illuminated by golden sun rays under blue sky, as a cool breeze blows on warmed skin – all I can do in the midst of this goodness is smile and give thanks. Gratitude, that seems word enough for this.

I’m sure many of you can relate to the joy of having past what was hopefully the last frost on Saturday night, given the crazy snow, ice, freezing rain, and wintery mixes we’ve been gifted this winter.

Now, the birds are all out singing their songs, tomatoes and peppers are being potted up and some already out to field to join early greens and roots. Now, the dogwood is finally in bloom, and farmers are on their toes keeping up with planting, seeding, weeding, and the repetition of it all until the moment we’ve been waiting for – the harvest.

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Baby arugula

Though we still have a few weeks before the first harvest is ready here on the farm, we have already begun to reap the reward of thoughtful planning, conscious outreach, and inspired visioning over the long winter.

This winter, Heartstrong Farm’s Core Group of voluntary advisory members came together to envision the future and growth of our farm as a CSA farm. We met over potluck suppers, and lent skills of marketing, business planning, creative problem solving, farm management, and inspired thoughts, words, and deeds, which has led to our CSA membership doubling from last year for the 2018 season! We are blessed and excited to be growing for 25 households (so far!) this season, with exciting off-farm pick up locations at Fair Game Beverage Co. in Pittsboro and Four Saints Brewing Co. in Asheboro. We also look forward to attending the Chatham Mills Farmers Market again this year with bright and colorful blooms beginning next month!

In addition to growing our farm family, we are so incredibly thankful to be a grant recipient from this year’s Agricultural Reinvestment Fund from the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)!

RAFI awarded Heartstrong Farm a grant that will allow us to improve our infrastructural systems on the farm, specifically updating and outfitting our greenhouse and pack area for greater efficiency and increased production to support our growing CSA program, in addition to building tables and shelves to turn an 1800s cabin into a farmstand here on the historic Marley House property along Highway 64.

Last and certainly not least, the RAFI grant in conjunction with grant support from the NC Arts Council and Asheboro’s Randolph Arts Guild has allowed a creative project to come to fruition that I’ve been chomping at the bit to share for some time – and now finally can!

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Season’s smiles!

As a CSA farm, and a farmer who’s work and mission is driven by community, I will never tire of learning about my community nor reinforcing the importance of community. As such, I believe in an expansive view of community supported agriculture, one that includes communion with the natural landscape, our neighbors, and other collectives cultivating beauty and goodness in one’s locale.

In Randolph County, my locale, one such community is that of the arts. As a newbie to the area, most every place I explored and visited was tied to the artist community here in some way. Seagrove’s world class pottery can be found on many store shelves, beautiful fiber studios are sprinkled across alpaca and sheep farms, the Randolph Arts Guild offers an impressive array of courses and community resources to meet most any creative whim, and locally crafted beverages are poured into gorgeous hand-thrown forms at Four Saints Brewing Co. in the county seat where local officials commune with artists, doctors with farmers, teachers with business owners, chefs with students, and furry paws with smiling children. It was here that I sat down at a picnic table for my weekly CSA drop off where I met a celebrated regional North Carolina artist, Les Caison III, as he was creating art pieces for his Art Wall exhibition, “Helping Hands Give You Wings”, at the brewery. At that table we connected over our passions – his for community art, and mine for community agriculture.

So, we had the thought – how beautiful if we could intersect the two? The arts supporting agriculture, and agriculture supporting the arts.

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Illustration and photo by Les III

Well, beauty grows where goodness is planted – and we sure are cultivating a lot of both around here! Over the course of this growing season, Les III will be creating one of a kind illustrations of Heartstrong Farm using black walnut ink handmade right here in North Carolina. Our aim is to share our story: a new North Carolina farm on a historic North Carolina farmland property depicted by a North Carolina born-and-raised-and-educated artist in celebration of agriculture and the arts in North Carolina. All of this, underscoring the deep and beautiful interconnections of community and the possibilities of shared support and growth.

How’s that for local goodness?

I think it’s mighty it fine, and am so looking forward to sharing in all that lays ahead with you!

Gratefully,

Farmer Eva

 

 

 

 

 

Beckoning Spring

Dear friends,

These warm spells have notes of Spring dancing through the grass and singing through the trees, early as it may be. Daffodils have blossomed and the buds are adorning tree branches and making their way up through the soil. The Heartstrong farmers have been busy planning this season’s bounty, building our greenhouse, preparing fields, and reaching out to our community. We cannot wait to meet you all this season – our first growing season – and share in our new journey with you. We are still seeking folks to join us in this new stage of our lives through our CSA. We have shares available for this year’s harvest, and we cannot wait to share in its goodness with you. All are welcome here.

With gratitude and in hopefulness,

E+P