2012 was such a busy year! I would have loved to blog more during City Grown’s first season, but as it was I barely had time to fulfill my commitment to the National Young Farmers Coalition as a “bootstraps blogger” with once-a-month posts on their site. I didn’t take the time to copy them over to here, my personal play space. Now that it’s winter and I’ve got nothing but time, I’m enjoying re-reading them as I copy them over. Here they are, starting with what I wrote in July 2012.
Original post here: http://www.youngfarmers.org/blog/2012/07/04/what-i-am-learning-interdependence/
“What I am Learning: Interdependence”
I think anyone who knows me would agree with me here: I am a bit of a control freak. I try to keep it in check, but the tendency is there to want to do everything all by myself to make sure that it’s done “right.”
As it turns out, this can be troublesome when one is starting a business with two partners! It also tends to be a problem when trying to farm, an occupation that comes with an overwhelming amount of work on even the smallest scale.
This year–my first season of working for myself–I have been even more focused than usual on knowing every detail of everything going on with the farm. Noe and Scott, my dear, dear business partners, have been wonderfully accepting of my throwing myself into the venture so wholeheartedly. But they might secretly be a teensy bit sick of my micromanagement at times!
Scott and Noe started City Grown last season, but the nature of their other jobs meant that they had very limited time to devote to it last year. The idea this season was that I would join with a larger time commitment than either of them, and, as a trio, we would be able to be the equivalent of one full-time farmer. Because I am devoting so much more time, I have taken on more responsibility than I might otherwise have done as a newcomer. I am grateful that my business partners have been willing for me to come in and make changes and take the reins so quickly, but I need to remember that we three are all equal partners.
I have been frustrated with myself for trying to take too much control. Until recently, however, it seemed too hard to let go. I wanted this business to succeed with every fiber of my being. Of course I was going to be constantly thinking about it and trying to plan every detail.
But now that harvest season is really ramping up around here, there is suddenly too little time for me to have a finger in every pie. With two harvest days and two market days every week on top of all the seeding, transplanting, watering, and weeding that still needs to get done, the scope of the work is certainly well beyond what can be accomplished by the two hands of one person.
I know from my apprenticeship experiences that a farm organism can be a wonderfully collaborative, synergistic thing, with many pieces and parts coming together, tasks getting done by different people, and responsibilities divided up and independently taken care of. I am finally being forced to put myself into a different role within this organism. I am no longer a recipient of instructions from a boss like when I was an intern. Now I am a decision-maker and implementer, but I am not the only one. My new role has to be that of one participant in this whole organism, and one of the directors of the other participants. I can direct the flow of the farm without actually being there to do all the work myself. City Grown was the beneficiary of a much-needed “crop mob” work party a couple weeks ago, organized by our Washington Young Farmers’ Coalition. We are extremely grateful for the transformation of one of our farm plots, brought by the magic of many hands making light work. Organizing and directing that work party was a chance for me to step back and understand that I have to trust others to help me make this farm all it can be.
Now that I have made a conscious effort to I let go of some of my anxiety around farming details, it seems help is showing up from all corners to assist us. The work party was great, and City Grown will also take on our first work-trade volunteer, now that we actually have plenty of vegetables to trade for her work! During this past week alone a few spontaneous happenings helped lighten my workload: One of my best farmer friends dropped by for a fun hour of pruning tomato plants with me, I roped (pun intended) my boyfriend into hanging pole bean string with me, and Noe changed up her usual routine to work a farmers’ market so I could take an afternoon off.
The month of June has been great: full of hard work and wonderful successes for City Grown. To fully appreciate these moments as they flow by, I am learning to relax a bit in my need for control and instead allow myself to nurture and grow all the interdependent people and pieces that will continue to come together to make it happen.