“In any moment we are as much about softness as fortitude. Always in need of care and tenderness. Life is fluid, evanescent, evolving in every cell, in every breath. Never perfect. To be alive is by definition messy, always leaning toward disorder and surprise.”
— Krista Tippett, from Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
We found a farm! So what I need to say first is thank you. Thank you.
This journey is teaching me to confront the messiness, the imperfection, the surprise of life. These last six months I have felt so fragile, so broken, so in need of care and tenderness. Fear startles me awake in the early morning. I dream of snakes. I speak of this time of uncertainty through metaphor: we are feeling our way in the dark, hands pressed to the cold, wet stone of cave walls. We’ve been looking ahead into black space and wondering when we’ll be able to see the home for Common Home Farm. And then surprise. Disorder and surprise. Now we can see it.
Let’s backtrack a bit. It’s October 2018, the leaves are fiery and the sky a deep blue. David runs into Amy Countryman at Kleindorfer’s Hardware Store. “Hey!” she says. “I was just thinking of y’all. We really want to help with your community but I’m not sure how.” Pause. “Unless, well, we do have some land north of town. I don’t know if you’d be interested … it’s only 10 acres… but you could check it out.”
We check it out. We take a long time to think about if this is the right land and the right situation for Common Home Farm. We talk to the planning department, the building department, our farmer friends. We seriously consider buying a different piece of land. We make many lists of pros and cons and on and on and on. We meet with Amy and Jeff many times. We sit with the decision in quiet and we listen. What we hear moves us forward:
- Starting on Amy and Jeff’s land brings us land AND community. Though Amy and Jeff won’t be living on the land, they will be members of the community and intimately involved in decision-making.
- It solves two problems beautifully: Their land and structures need tending. We want land and structures to tend.
- We will be able to buy into the property through our labor on the land and buildings. This means we can spend more of our time working on the land as opposed to jobs in town.
What the pictures don’t show you is the place this land has in Amy and Jeff’s hearts. It’s a big deal that they want to share it. They’re not sharing it in a simple way either, like renting or selling to us. They are sharing it in a big, complicated way, like let’s figure out how to own this collectively or put it in a land trust for the ongoing benefit of the community. This is a courageous move that demonstrates their trust in us and this vision. What we are choosing here is not straightforward and it is not simple. But it upholds our values, brings amazing people into this work, offers us joy, and we are grateful.
We have a lot to still figure out organizationally. Some of those questions are: how do people join the community, how do they leave, do they build equity, what IS the organizational structure, how do we hold land in common? We also have a lot to figure out about rehabbing the garden shed and getting to know/clearing/regenerating the land. We plan to draft a long-term “land plan” in the next few months which will help us map out garden and animal space and building sites for future homes.
We had our inaugural workday last Saturday. We joyfully cleared out rotting wood, old garden supplies, rusty lawn chairs, and lots of vines. We plan to have workdays most Saturdays. We welcome any and all who might enjoy a day of light physical labor and laughter. We provide lunch, drinks, and a tour of this beautiful place we are grateful to call Common Home Farm.