Hope is Flowers | Over the Fence Urban Farm

Well, the entire 2021 season has come and gone and I haven’t posted anything in this space. That last offering was about flowers (see Cultivating a Love of Flowers) and those were one of the few things that did really well this year. Guess this proves the notion that you get what you give. I put energy towards flowers in the spring and we reaped the benefits. That said, and despite everything I wrote in the spring about developing an appreciation for flowers, you can’t eat them, at least not enough for a balanced diet.

As always, I felt inspired to write, there was plenty on my mind. I maintained our social media feeds so at least there is some record there of what transpired. But it was a hard year. Global weirding was in full effect and we saw long periods of super hot and dry weather alternating with lots of rain and spells of unseasonable cool. My energy and enthusiasm waned – I didn’t go out to work as much as I used to or organize CSA work sessions as regularly as in the past. More wild animals came to dine at our salad bar than ever, causing crop failure on multiple fronts. And we saw diseases, like tomato mosaic virus, I’d only read about before.

So, I can’t say I’m completely sad it’s October. We’re cleaning up and looking to the future. But this time I’m playing a long game. Last month, at the Jewish holiday of Rosh haShanah, an official shmita year began. Some readers will remember this is the seventh year biblical sabbatical called for in the Torah of Jews living in the land in Israel. I planned to take my own shmita year in the summer of 2019 as it was out 7th farm season (see: Embracing Persephone: My Shmita Year). That plan was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic and I see 2021-22 (5782 on the Jewish calendar) as a second chance to take a much needed break.

As I look back on the year gone by and start to imagine the next seven, I have a few things I’m genuinely thankful for. Blessings worth noting and planning to make a part of our work moving forward.

First, Thanks to all the people who sent messages and photos of how the farm impacted your lives! From produce you turned into hot sauces, cocktail mixers, and new sandwich toppers to the seedlings you took home, nurtured, and enjoyed I’m grateful for your new ideas and appreciations. It’s so great to know what happens to the bio-mass we put out into the world.

Second, thanks to everyone who hosted me for farm and garden visits this year. From old friends to new acquaintances, to strangers I didn’t get to meet, I’m inspired by your work in rural and urban spaces throughout Central Ohio and beyond. Here are a few of the highlights.

(clockwise from top left) Mezzacello, Olde Towne East; Ithaca Community Garden, NY; Highland Youth Garden, Hilltop; Sharing Garden, Beechwold; Gomer’s Garden, Clintonville

Thanks also to those who visited the farm and reminded me its not like everyone else’s backyard. Where I saw mess, you saw magic. Where I saw what could be, you saw what was. Thank you for coming to sit by the fire pit for a chat, thank you for leading yoga classes in the driveway, thank you for sending your children to us for camp, and thank you for following us on social media and letting us know what we are doing is helping you see possibilities in your own spaces.

And finally, we circle back to the flowers. Thank Gaia for the flowers. I didn’t count the number of bouquets I cut this season, but I know it was a lot. As our friend Julian recently suggested, each one was a love song of sorts – a collection sown, grown, and gathered with love. And as our friend and yoga instructor Emily suggested, flowers offer us an opportunity to pay attention, to cultivate our mindful presence as we work to navigate and co-create new normals. That’s something I hope to do a lot of between now and Fall 2022. You may or may not hear much from me between now and then but I’ll look forward to being with you on the other side.

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