A few days ago I met my land. I’ll call it mine even though it’ll only be in my fingernails and on my nose and knees for three growing seasons. Just three—three unfurling springs, three emerald summers, three golden falls, three wild winters.
The assignment of the land, in my business partner’s words, was a gift; the walk of it, where I gamboled like a lamb, a blessing. We collected fragments of soil to mix and bag for a soil test, and every step, each probe into the earth, held an exaltation, a desire, a promise, and a prayer. A prayer to the mud: let us love you and be loved back. Let us give to you and gather what you offer. Let us build you up with minerals and straw and compost. Let us take from you leaves for tea and flowers for love.
I’ve worked on a lot of farms but never so intimately. This will be my first time being with the same plot for so many years. It’s also my first time coddling life under grow lights and working them into a crop plan, considering their relationships to each other and the soil. We pair plants that can live together happily, making sure that they won’t take each other’s sunshine or argue over nutrients. We plan for flowers, for the bees that will come to them, for the birds that will sing beside them.
To be a farmer is to be a conductor. We arrange the plants in their proper sections, placing everything in its right place. When all is well everyone is dressed up and striking chords of transcendence. When there’s a flat note or a loss of melody or, heaven forbid, a silence when there ought to be a gold tone, we go back to the practice room, scratching notes and figuring out what’s missing. Maybe the worm section is lacking. Maybe the brassy iron is lackluster and needs to be replenished. I yield my wand of a hoe and try to figure it out.
Seeing this green land, laying my hands in it, knowing that, for a while, that this will be our symphony hall; nothing I’ve ever experienced feels like this. Never before have I stood upon the conductor’s platform. Nothing has been so humbling or so full of possibility.
My land, our land, no one’s land at all: I can’t wait to grow beside you.