Harden Off Your Plants, Not Yourself: Farming, Food & Social Justice

picking strawberries

You know those growing pains you had as a kid?  I remember when they woke me up in the middle of the night, and my mom would rub my aching legs to get me back to sleep.  I do the same for Waylon now.

Right now, I’m in a season of growth.  

Lots of learning.  Reading.  Listening.  Reflecting.  Finding ways to take action.

Except this time, I’m not growing taller.  This time, I’m wading through the centuries of pain caused by structural and personal inequality and racism.  

At Good Heart Farmstead, our mission is to make local food accessible to all people.  

But as I go deeper into the history of the US, I’m learning about the history of stealing land from both Native Americans and Black farmers.  

I’m learning about holidays like Juneteenth, which I was never taught.  (Did you know that black people were enslaved in Texas for 2 ½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed?  Two and a half years.)

I’m learning that food access and equity mean land access and equity, too.

Waking up to the depth of our history is uncomfortable.  It’s also how we grow.

Because the thing about growth is this: you can’t avoid the pain.

Discomfort and stress are part of transformation.  Even with plants, there’s a hardening off time to transition them from the greenhouse to the field.  

While plants harden off, the growth I’m in is about softening.  

It’s about going to the heart of pain and loss and violence and inequality and touching it all.  

It’s about going into the heart of it and seeing where love and joy and persistence still lives and touching those, too.

Just as my mom would massage my legs as a kid with growing pains, healing and growth require showing up, offering our hands and care even when we know we can’t take the pain away.

Caring begins with understanding.  Getting close.  Opening up.

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

An Indigenous People’s History of the United States — I’ve been listening to this audiobook in the field, and the other day Waylon asked, “why are you listening about so much war?  That’s not who you are.” 

“Yes, my love, but I was never taught this in school, and I need to learn it now.”  He was shocked that school didn’t teach me the full history, so we’re adding Abenaki history to our homeschool curriculum.

Here’s what I’m listening to:

Where Regenerative Agriculture Gets It Wrong, and What We Can Do About It

Brene Brown with Ibram X. Kendi and Austin Channing Brown

Here’s where I’m donating:

Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust

Until Freedom

If you’re able, consider setting up a monthly donation.  Even a small amount makes a difference.

And finally, on The Good Heart Life, two posts to read in case you missed them:

Do Not Fear The Opportunity To Do Better

Organic Farming, Reciprocity, and Becoming Indigenous – What I’m Learning from the Abenaki

Whew.  I know that’s a lot of links, and that’s just a tiny fraction of resources out there to help us learn, offer support, and take action.

I’ll leave it here for now.  If you’d like to share organizations, books, or people to learn from, post them in the comments below.

And let me know: 

What are you reading right now?  What action (small or large) can you take to help grow positive change? 

2 thoughts on “Harden Off Your Plants, Not Yourself: Farming, Food & Social Justice”

  1. I’m in the same boat with you, Kate! I’ve got audiobooks Me and White Supremacy and I’m Still Here in the holds queue at the library so I can listen in the car on my drive to my farm since I’m never sitting and reading this time of year. And yes to the soft heart. Thank you for sharing these kind words of strength.

    1. Thanks, Sue! Audiobooks in the field are my go-to for continual learning. Here’s to soft hearts and planting seeds.

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