The pungent smell of onions permeated the shed while we worked. As each minute ticked on the sun emerged, and the day grew warm. The large drum fan and the cross breeze kept us cool. Black flies zipped by, landing any and everywhere there was space. No matter how many times we swiped, shooed, and blew them away, they returned. That’s the thing about flies, they always find their way back.
In some ways, the flies persistence mirrored our own as we counted tiny germs, four to six at a time, pouring each into small cells over, and over, and over. Once full our 8×8 containers, replete with brown seeds, would be set out as a community to germinate. Eventually, the fate of these now sleeping beauties will lead them to market (or a CSA box) as lush green parsley. But much more will need to take place to prepare them for such a debut. At least for the next few hours they were with us, still small and quite. And our only focus was to make sure that this part of the parsley life cycle was completed with attention and care, and a few well-wishes along the way. After all, this soon-to-be plant will one day make its way into someone’s kitchen. So why not fortify it with good intention?
Farming is like that. A cyclical and dynamic thing. A generating cycle of life-giving energy. Or rather, perhaps, that’s how farming can be, and still is in many parts of the world. There are numerous farmers that still uphold the practice of farming as a communal effort. I may be biased, coming from a family of farmers, but I believe farming requires a multidisciplinary skill set. Farmers not only grow our food, but they also have a range of responsibilities that often go unrecognized. Farmers are scientific experts of ecological systems related to food production. Farmers are practitioners, utilizing ancestral methods to produce crops that are more sustainable and biologically diverse. Farmers are artisans and specialists, many of whom focus their work on growing specific, or endangered food species. Farmers are cultural workers and community organizers, connecting people, food, and politics, to the environment.
Over and over again, the food we eat and those who grow that food will lead us back to the land. And as our food systems become increasingly compromised due to environmental degradation, we are all being called to make more informed choices about our agricultural future. You see, in reality, we are not so different from our Diptera (fly) relatives, whose life is spent supporting the earth through pollination and pest control. No matter how many times we are swatted at for questioning our convictions, we will always return to the earth for guidance, solutions, and the nourishment of ideas.