If you’ve been following our blog, you know we’ve had some greenhouse mishaps due to toxic off gasses emitting from an inappropriate propane heater. The seeds that had already sprouted not only did not grow at the rate they should have, but also their leaves began to dry and curl up from the fumes. After much stressing and praying, we identified the problem and remedied it, but not before a lot of irreparable damage was done to the seeds. You could say they experienced a fair amount of trauma, which, to those that survived, will have ramifications for the duration of their lives as plants. The seeds that survived are set back. They grow slower and with less vitality than seeds started in optimum conditions.
Tiny seeds have so much potential to become life-giving plants, but the fact that they begin their journey in such a vulnerable and impressionable state makes the seed tender’s job fraught with responsibility. There is so much at stake here. Life is at stake here. The seeds must be known-who are they, what environment they prefer, what gifts they have, what dangers are they susceptible to. One must be gentle, encouraging, careful, observant, loving, and ultimately, able to learn from new life. One must allow the seeds to grow as they desire, in accordance with who they are. We do not force a tomato plant to produce eggplant, instead, we provide a space and methods to help a tomato plant become more of who it should be.
As a mother, I can’t but help make the obvious connection of tiny plants to children. It’s such a timeless analogy but it’s really been hitting me hard lately. So much of the time we-even in our good intentions-forget to truly observe our children and their needs. I’ve been recently seeking more to enter into parenting with the posture of humility, that is, being open to learning (about myself, my children, and the world) from my interactions with my children. It has 100% changed my relationship with my children. This way of being takes a lot of effort. It’s always harder to be present-minded, attentive, aware, and awake. But from what I’m observing, it produces a lot of life, and we’re all about life here at ATF, so I’m trying to do the work!
I’ve been reading a book called For Your Own Good; Hidden Cruelty in Child rearing and the Roots of Violence By Alice Miller. It’s a valuable read. In it I came across something she wrote and I’d like to share it with you guys today. When I read it, I think of both seeds AND children:
“Children need a large measure of emotional and physical support from the adult. This support must include the following elements if the children are to develop to their full potential:
Respect for the child
Respect for the child’s rights
Tolerance for the child’s feelings
Willingness to learn from the child’s behavior:
A.about the nature of the individual child
B.about the child in the parents themselves
C. about the nature of emotional life, which can be observed much more clearly in the child than in the adult because the child can experience her feelings much more intensely and, optimally, more undisguisedly than an adult.”
There are so many reasons why we farm. We farm for the big picture of feeding people and for land regeneration, but we also farm because when we really immerse ourselves in the process of farming, it teaches us about ourselves, and who we can become. It informs all parts of our lives and teaches us how to live more fully. It shows us about relationships, about community, about death and life. It shows us how to be more human.