Of those members, we have over an 80% retention rate from our 2014 members— reminding us what a strong community network we are a part of. Thank you for joining us again, or for the first time, in 2015. Once the ground moves out of soggy, slippery, mud mode; once the thawing, drying, draining begins; once we are graced with several days of warm sun and gentle breeze without precipitation, we will steadily, thoughtfully, hopefully, ready the soil to become a home for the plants which fill our greenhouse.
On the mornings of frozen ground, or the evenings of late-March snow, we re-habituate the horses with working in harness: brushing off their winter coats and excercising their muscles to adjust for the beginning of the growing season and the heavier work to come.
A meditation practitioner who I studied from this winter closed retreat with a concept that distilled my relationship with a meditative practice: if you are asking yourself if your experience of meditation is “working,” do not look at your practice itself: look at your life. A meditation practice may be messy: flighty, full of emotion, full of what the Buddha called the 5 hindrances: desire, aversion, sloth (sleepiness), restlessness, and doubt. But what is the impact of this practice on your living, how does a practice affect your relationship with yourself and those who surround you?
Were I to let it, this sentiment may serve me well in consideration of more than mediation. For example, everything. For example, the month of March.
March is a funny time to be a farmer; we turn the heat on in the greenhouse and the seedlings start to emerge, slow and beautiful and oh-so tender, and we watch with bated breath (practically) for each variety to germinate. Meanwhile something inside our brains is yelling GO MOVE DO WORK in a voice so loud it is sometimes hard to do anything else. Like, for example, sleep. But the not-so-tragic reality is that there is nowhere particular to go, nothing breathtakingly urgent to do. In fact, there is a whole lot of waiting: for the snow to melt, the ground to dry. There are the countless projects, plans, and projections of winter which didn’t quite get done, (or sometime started), and so now we vote as to if these most procrastinate-able tasks should be moved to the top of the To Do List, pushed aside for 2016, or a little bit of both.
In other words, we are full of the hindrances: craving the workable soil, the healthy plants, the completed tasks, the sun; wishing for winter to be over and gone; too lazy to start those projects which continue to sound too daunting or impossible; too restless to relax as completely as we could in the heart of mid-winter; and doubting that Spring might ever come; doubting every joy, delight, possibility, and richness of the season. After 4 months surviving on storage vegetables, the idea of a red ripe tomato or juicy cucumber-off-the-vine sounds almost unreal.
And so I ask, how can I hold this space in which we dwell, let it swell with the breath of possibility, and expire that which does not serve us on our path toward growing fertile dirt, strong plants, respected animals, enlivened food, and a conscious community?
If we want to know if our farming practice is “working,” we cannot look at each individual moment. Sure, like in any practice, some moments swell with bliss and near-enlightened Nirvana, some moments feel like we have freed ourselves from the cycle of death and rebirth, and instead dwell within a full and total engagement with the soil, the plow, the horse, the leaf, the fruit, the eater. But many moments are messy, flighty, full of emotion and hindrances. To know if our work is “working,” we must look at the whole: the ins and outs of not even just one season, but the totality of them: the families we feed, the beings we raise and co-habitate this place alongside, the work of continuity which we humbly engage in as a testament of our gratitude for our existence, and our faith in something lovely.