When we talk about farming, we mostly talk about working with plants. Seeding in cozy greenhouses, planting in the glorious sunshine and harvesting at sunrise. Part of the wonder of farming is finding attunement with the natural cycles that make our fields sing. But the big secret is that much of farming isn’t about plants at all, it’s about people. Especially at a farm of our scale, everything we do depends on people working together. It’s more about togetherness than solitude.
As chilly autumn winds move in, I’m grateful for the positive, collaborative, diligent and joyful workplace we’re building at Langwater. In my role, I’m often teaching the field crew new skills or coordinating big projects to make sure we’re moving forward efficiently. It is a privilege to share the complex, beautiful world of the farm with others, and I particularly appreciate sharing this world with people who are farming for their first season. Season one is a tough endeavor, exacting a physical toll while demanding focus, positivity and mental flexibility. In your first season it is easy to fear that an uncomfortable task will never end. The liberating truth is that everything changes, especially in the world of the farm where routines are built and rebuilt every few weeks as the weather shifts. This season, in the midst of long afternoons of repetitive work (weeding beets or harvesting potatoes or…) several field crew members opened up about the transformations they’ve found in season one. Here are their words, just as I scrawled them down in my field notebook:
I never knew that I could enjoy going to work until I came to Langwater.
No matter how difficult the day is, when it ends I know that we have accomplished something. We have something to show for ourselves, and it feels good. Every day here is a good day.
It’s like camp. We’re all in this together. We know what we’re working towards and we’re having fun out here. I love the noises and singing and wildness.
I love harvesting the brassicas at Wheaton. It is so calm over there, like you’re in another world.
At first it was hard to tell who’s in charge here because everyone is so nice and everyone works together. I wish that I had discovered agriculture earlier.
We eat like kings! This place is awesome. Everybody gets it here. I have finally found my people.
Working here changed everything that I understand about food and everything that I see in what I eat. I’ll never eat the same way again.