Guest post by Celia Dolan, Class of 2019
Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
I hear the opening lyrics to The Garden song as I head out for work. On my way, I pass by The Farm at Stonehill and am reminded of the tremendous growth abundant in those fields. In my first year at Stonehill, I volunteered at The Farm essentially on a whim and it transformed what I studied, what my career goals are, and who I am. I grew a thirst for knowledge about sustainable agriculture and food justice. I grew an interest in learning about how my food choices and consumerism impact other people and the environment. I grew new friendships and mentorships. The Farm allowed me to grow the garden of my life, especially this year.
In an effort to avoid bringing up the oft-discussed challenging circumstances of 2020, which we all recognize and understand, I will simply say that this season at The Farm was different. The crew was small, but beautiful. The crops planted were fewer, but abundant and delicious. This summer was the end of the familiar and the start of adapting, embarking on a new journey, finding a new strategy for survival. Such a sentiment felt especially real to me as I acknowledged that my time at The Farm was winding down and I’d have to seek out new ventures.
Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
‘Cause the time is close at hand
That seeking led me to my current position as direct service associate at My Brother’s Keeper (MBK). Truly, I have The Farm to thank for this opportunity; had I not gone to MBK to deliver Farm produce and talked with their manager of the food assistance program, I wouldn’t have known about the opening. I have the privilege of serving others each day and bringing food to those in the surrounding community – an effort to mitigate food insecurity similar to my work at The Farm.
The growth that I experienced at The Farm, first as a student, then as the assistant farm manager, continues today despite not being at The Farm on a regular basis. Now, I work each day at MBK, but constantly feel my roots deeply planted down the street at The Farm. Thanks to the amazing power of The Farm to feed my soul and my curiosities and passions, I have taken what I learned in the fields and classroom into my everyday life. I continue to grow relationships and connections to The Farm in my new position. Just last week, I spoke with Dennis, a volunteer at MBK, who was in the warehouse when Bridget stopped by with a donation of produce. He chatted with me after, asking how long The Farm had been at Stonehill and how I got involved there. He is a Stonehill alum, but never knew Stonehill’s farm existed and was moved by the mission and impact it had on me. Another volunteer and alum, Bob, has exchanged gardening tips and sourdough baking methods with me on a regular basis.
A student volunteer from Bridgewater State University has had deep conversations with me about food justice, nutrition, the industrial food system on a regular basis. She is full of excitement and enthusiasm that reminds me of the magical ways that food connects all people and all things. One coworker of mine was previously involved in the restaurant business and loves talking about cooking, heirloom varieties, and various foodie topics that have exposed me to entirely new ways of seeing food. Clearly, the growth and nourishment that started for me at The Farm continues to shape my life.
Find my way in Nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music from the land
The Farm’s music is like a background melody for me as I load vans with food for deliveries. And as I encourage our volunteers to compost spoiled food while making food boxes, rather than throw it in the trash. And as I learn about people’s traditional foods, like cachupa and cus-cus from Cape Verde. And when I spy urban beekeepers perched on the roof of a house near where we deliver.
I miss The Farm dearly, but it is never truly gone from me, nor I from it. It is a part of me, and a part that I carry unwaveringly. Just as I, hopefully, will always be part of The Farm.
“I want to love the land before I’m gone
And can only hope it will remember me fondly
My worn paths and retraced steps and froglet offerings
My songs whistled, hummed, and sung”
-Excerpt from a poem I wrote in August
Thank you, 2020 crew, for a wonderful, beautiful, roller coaster ride of a season! I wish you all the best and pray that The Farm will continue to shower blessings on you and everyone who steps foot on that beautiful ground.