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The Heart of a Farmer

Some growers farm solely to make a living, to turn a profit, to provide for themselves and their families. There ain’t a darn thing wrong with that.

There are other farmers, though, who’ve been pulled to the land by an unknown force, who’ve been nudged towards it by an unseen hand.

The connections these farmers feel towards the earth, the soil, and the natural systems that produce healthy, nutritious food are as powerful as they are intangible. Whether you believe in God, or don’t, farming is a spiritual act.

We asked a few farmers in the Georgia Organics family to tell us a little about their connection to the land. We like where their heads are at.

 

jacksons

Jenny and Chris Jackson of Jenny Jack Sun Farm

CHRIS JACKSON
Jenny-Jack Sun Farm, Pine Mountain

Walking alongside the buckwheat last week just before the lunch bell, I stopped to admire the blazing white buds bursting open in perfect symphony. Their physical beauty, upright posture, and belonging demeanor first intrigued me, but it was the sound surrounding the flowers that made me pause.

It was a harmonic hum, like a fast-moving ceiling fan or the distant rush of wind from rush hour traffic. I immediately guessed bees. Not swarming, but evenly spread out, thousands foraging nectar, purposefully and gracefully floating from source to source unencumbered by the entranced human. Nothing particularly wise or earth-shattering fluttered through my brain. There was no deep, soulful realization. But the moment itself was right and pure and settling.

The bees were doing what worker bees were designed to do— locate, harvest, and return nectar to the hive so that the collective might survive the cold days and even colder nights.

Their busyness in preparation is noteworthy because they were engaged in the very life-giving talent bestowed upon each bee to perform daily. This picture, I believe, breathes volumes into our daily pursuit of vocation, calling and purpose.

A farm is certainly a good place to watch nature make these connections. Pigs rooting and rolling in mud, chickens hunting a juicy worm, bees and insects fulfilling their innate desire to be fruitful.

There is comfort in witnessing an animal relishing its intended function, unashamed and deliberate in its movements, careful but overwhelmingly confident.

I have been encouraged to watch many of you humbly live out your callings, as Frederick Buechner said, “where your deep love meets the world’s deep needs.” As for us, Jenny and I were reminded last week while pulling red and white sweet potatoes from the chocolate-colored earth how fortunate we were to be digging, making constant contact with our beginnings and our end. May our continual search for purpose find power in prayer, community, and the natural world.

 

lynn_pughLYNN PUGH
Cane Creek Farm, Cumming

I use organic production methods because I believe that we must learn to feed ourselves in ways that are life-giving to creation.

Experiencing and working with nature all day, most every day will change a person if they pay attention! Time for reflection is built into every day, as some tasks are repetitive and leave plenty of time for thought. I have become more inclusive and less judgmental as I come to understand my significance and my insignificance in this world.

It is a sacred moment for me every time I see a seed germinate.  I know the science of the process, but the whole thing is clothed in miracle, as far as I am concerned, and I feel the presence of God.

Sometimes in my classes, I hear and see students of diverse backgrounds with different dreams sharing and enjoying each other in a truly wonderful way. They are brought together by their mutual love of growing and nurturing creation. God is present in such love, whether people realize it or not. It brings me great joy to be a part of such a community.

I have always called myself a Christian, though maybe not in the popular understanding of the word.  Better to say, I believe in following the example of Jesus.

I believe in God as the Creator of everything including the forces of nature and evolution. I believe that humans have been given a special mission and challenge to learn to sustain and nurture the world we are a part of. Part of that mission is accomplished in the mindful and considerate production of food.

 

rashidRASHID NURI
Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture, Atlanta

So many people get up in the morning and when they go to work they feel like they are going to hell. They hate it. I can see it on people’s faces. They have to gird themselves to be able to go into the office because they don’t like the dynamics that are there.

Me, I come out to the garden in the morning and I know I meet God right out here, in these plants, and I can hear [and] see God speak, see all the miracles that take place: the connections between us, the plants, and the soil, and the people that relate here. People come out here just for the peace that they experience here.

We work very hard to keep the vibrations at a very mellow level. The garden does not support disharmony. It doesn’t support discord. These are all things that are not here. So you can come in and have peace and be able to commune with nature. People say that, but when you are communing with nature you are really communing with God.

 

darby

Darby Weaver and Elliot Smith

DARBY WEAVER
Sun Dog Farm, Blairsville

Even with the unpredictable weather patterns and bouts of heavy rain, life on our farm has found its course and navigated the extremes with grace. After just five months on the property, Sun Dog Farm is finally shaping up to be a productive venture and thriving farm organism.

And here I am on a daily basis soaking in the beautiful expressions of this valley. On a golden morning harvesting radishes, I was amazed to realize how much the farm is an extension of my own consciousness.

There are moments as a farmer when you look about all of your work and feel a great sense of pride.  There are maybe just as many moments when you look at all the incredible life forces around you harnessing energies all their own and you simply feel grateful.

I have come to realize that my role here on the farm varies, but it is certainly never “master” or the “boss.”  I am but one part of the farm organism.

The adage “know your farmer” truly expresses the importance of purchasing food from the very people who put the seeds in the ground. When someone loves their land and crops enough to not only put their name on the label, but to put their face behind the table at the Farmers Market, it is quite clear that they are doing what they love and that love is what grew what they are offering.

That love is what ensures that the crops receive proper nutrition, as well as the people who eat them, and that love carries over into the farm organism as a whole.  Love is as dynamic a force as a farm is an organism, and the relationship between the two is the best source of medicine available today.

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