The other day I was giving my dog Gracie a belly rub, showering her with compliments like, “You’re so beautiful! You’re a good friend. You’re a good dog. I love you!”
And I thought, wow, what if we all talked to each other like I’m talking to my dog — even for a day? How much happier will everyone feel? How much happier will we feel?
Because just saying these things to my dog makes me feel better.
We’re like each other’s companion plants — you know, like basil and tomatoes? I give her love, and her wiggly body and nuzzling snout fills me up in return.
Which got me thinking about language. How even more than the broadfork and stirrup hoe, language is the most important tool we use.
Yes, those physical tools are important — I wrote a whole post about the best tools for farmers & gardeners — but it’s language that runs our farm.
It’s what creates effective meetings as we organize and strategize about the work ahead.
It’s how we create relationships with our customers and welcome potential customers to the farm.
It’s how we make all of our sales.
Language is a tool to invite or push away. A tool to identify or differentiate. A tool that can cultivate connection or separation.
In organic farming our work is rooted in the deep understanding that the health of the crops depends on biodiversity. Even the soil itself relies on a multitude of organisms and mycorrhizae.
Over the past year I’ve been thinking about how we use language to serve customers who are different from us.
How do we apply the diversity of the field to the language we use so we can better serve our community?
How can we use language to strengthen the connections between us while honoring how our differences make us stronger together?
How do we use language as a tool for inclusivity instead of unconscious or conscious division?
I thought about this as I wrote and designed our new farm website.
Little things, like adding our pronouns on the about page, can make a big difference to how welcome trans or gender-fluid people may feel.
There’s so much more, of course, but just like on the farm, it’s the small actions that lead to bountiful harvests.
I have to give credit to one of my teachers, Tarzan Kay, a copywriter who’s been exploring this over the past year and sharing what she’s learning with her students and email subscribers.
What it comes down to is this: language is a tool.
Just like any other tool, we can use it consciously or unconsciously. Just like with a stirrup hoe, we can become so comfortable with it that we zone out as we use it — until we get too close to a row of seedlings and scuffle them along with the weeds. Or we can bring ourselves back to awareness over and over again, learning how to speak in a way that pulls up the weeds and makes room for new words to grow.
Let’s use language to grow a bountiful world for all.
Do you have questions about language, copy (the writing you use for your farm business), or how you apply it to your farm website and emails? Let me know. I might not have all the answers, but I believe conversations and collaboration are the most fun ways to find them.