Why are we still here?

fireflies

Businesses come and go like the flashings of fireflies on summer nights. The numbers don’t add up sufficiently and they’re snuffed out. I am not a business person; I make poor business decisions, sometimes intentionally. If a vegetable business is going to survive around here, it should be located on flat, fertile ground, close to the city with no significant, indigenous deer population. It should invest heavily in infrastructure improvements and specialize in high-value crops, perhaps value-added products and sell at high-end farmers markets, charging appropriately high prices. Employees should be hired, interns and apprentices employed. The stuff should probably be USDA-certified Organic and branded attractively. Profit should rarely—if ever—stray from the mind of the business owner. She should quantify every square foot and every hour input. Margins are small; you can’t afford to be generous.
So how is it that A Place on Earth CSA Farm continues into year 13? The answer is simple, it seems to me: the dogged work and faith of a small number of beautiful people finding joy and meaning in rich relationships. We don’t think we can save the world. We’re not even sure we can save ourselves. But we cling for life to bygone virtues like dignity, integrity, compassion, love, humor, perseverance. We see not just the beauty in carrots germinating and tomatoes ripening but also in stately ancient trees standing, oxygen exchanged, soil replenished. There is a truth in sweating and stooping and chopping and smelling that won’t ever be quantified or monetized. There is an honesty in our nourishment that will never be found in a pill or a drive-thru window.
Gratitude must go beyond giving thanks to this place on earth; we are compelled to give of ourselves as much as we are given. Our transactions can’t be measured by the pound or the bushel, the hour or the work week; they are invaluable as courage and strength, as a bulwark from despair. Rather than, “How can we make more money?” we ask ourselves, “How can we humble ourselves further? How can we become more balanced? How can we make ourselves worthy of belonging to this awesome mystery?”
Seven generations ago, people could not have conceived of where we are today. And, as broken and tragic as our world can feel, none now can conceive of seven generations out. A good business person would probably wager his money on calamity—indeed they do all the time, elevating quarterly profits above all else. But I think we’re here today because we are hopeful people, investing our cents and souls in a world where right relationships reign supreme. It may seem clear that we are in the minority and overmatched, but it also may just be this flash of light we embody that gains momentum and turns the tide.
There are plenty of sour people accumulating billions of dollars. It is my great honor to share in the wealth of a small circle of wonderful lives, gathered around a welcoming table, radiating out from a sacred place on earth.

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