We had a larger staff than ever before, and I made payroll each time! I adapted payroll to a more frequent schedule in response to staff desire. I paid above minimum wage.
We got the new tiller going! I overcame nervousness and setbacks in learning to use it, and it rocketed bed prep & turnover more quickly than ever before, increasing productivity on the farm overall, and incorporating cover crops for the first time! Less labor, more flowers, and more soil health!
We improved post-harvest handling & bouquet life. In response to customer feedback, this was a priority for 2017. Staff training, cooperative oversight, and honest check-ins on bouquets improved our quality.
I continued to forage! Some weeks were so busy that it seemed impossible to get out and forage for wildflowers, but I did so, with the encouragement of my staff. It not only strengthens the individuality and place-based originality of our work, but I enjoy it enormously, and it improves my mental health.
I made room for Shelbie & Sherry to take on individual responsibilities in farm management & design, respectively. I helped support them to build the necessary foundations, then got out of the way (I think) to enable them to act according to their prerogatives and growing expertise.
5 things I want to do better in 2018
I improved my financial bookkeeping, but it is still not where I want it to be. I need to hold myself accountable on a weekly basis, not just catch-up over the months. Imperfect is better than not at all. I am taking an online course in accounting right now in order to build my confidence and knowledge to accomplish this goal.
Ambiguity about other employees' role as public faces, or not, for the business, caused some pain and confusion this season. I want to preemptively discuss this with crew and together come to understanding about public facing roles.
We will apply crop amendments beyond just compost this year. It is time for us to begin to improve soil & crop health in more sophisticated ways. We will move forward with it, even if it's not perfect, and improve from there. The improvement for this year is to do it at all, and the improvements thereafter can be more nuanced.
We will improve customer recordkeeping with a more comprehensive database. We will know our past customers and their buying habits better, and strive to offer them more & better opportunities to purchase, especially past wedding customers!
The season started strong with staff training & engagement. I let it drift away partly due to busyness, but also partly because I didn't perceive 'enough' enthusiasm. This was not true enough to trust. I will trust & continue structures we set up including farm walks, check-ins, and weekly goals.
This week I had the good fortune and good sense to attend a dialogue on Disability Justice in the gardens and farms of Detroit, led by local activist Baba Baxter. I was introduced to the Social Model of disability, which states that disability is a social problem that can be cured by treating the social and material conditions of ableism.
I'm so grateful to be exposed to this new to me way of approaching the world. A quote behind the speakers read "My only handicap is your attitude." An important piece of this understanding also seems to be that ability is temporary.
The tanks! The tanks! Come spring, the hoophouse will be largely reliant on rain catchment.
I return again to imagination, and how important it is to our collective liberation and survival. Your imagination is your own innate possession, and it is also our society's best hope to continue along our healing pathways.
I sometimes find myself dissuading myself of idealized visions because of the 'practicality' drummed into my consciousness by the version of the world I've grown up in. The negative voices in my head, and your head, and society's multiple gnawing gnashing heads, are not our best bets.
Collecting leaves is one of my favorite fall activities.
I'm inviting myself, and you, to imagine with my most loving and hopeful self, and keep imagining better and better versions of life and equity and justice. Let's keep expanding our consciousness to improve our imaginations.
This pic from April reminds us what's to come of all those bulbs we planted in the cold cold ground! The tulips will come...
Thanks for enabling my imagination all season long,
I was talking with my mom recently about remembering, and the limits of remembering, and the need to let go of some memories. What's the word for the bittersweet knowledge that even in a moment, the memory you're creating may not stick with you? If a scarcity of relics encourages reverence for the few remaining pieces, what does a glut of relics encourage?
Fall colors on our japanese lilac bush.
The beautiful 'products' that I create & sell from the farm have come to a close for the year. However, the garden itself offers much in the way of enjoyment and peace for the diligent observer.
A lovely cart full of dusty miller & amaranth, at our last delivery to Mayesh.
All practices ingrain habits and mindsets on us. Some practices we've created ourselves, with intention. Many practices we've inherited or absorbed from our families, friends, societies. It can be somewhat of a spiraling process, no? Whatever you center, you continue to be attracted to. It takes a lot of effort to center something else, but once you get in the groove, the momentum of the orbit can keep you in it with less and less effort (for better & for worse).
Amaranth, dianthus, dahlias, marigolds, dusty miller, strawflowers, kale, and eucalyptus make up our last week's deliveries.
This is such a time of year for taking stock, and sharing. We're getting ready for some significant downtime, and some significant celebrating. I'm working on centering family and intimate relationships this time of year. I'm working on accepting the hard and sad and angering aspects of those relationships, as well as the joy and fun and light.
Uncle Shelbie & Ruti share a tender moment cleaning pepper plants in the hoophouse.
"Transformation requires us to actively seek to liberate ourselves from the thinking that surrounds us and from the habitats of action we have internalized, both as individuals and in groups. Simply put, we are likely to persist in thinking and acting on unconscious assumptions of separation, scarcity, powerlessness, and the importance of controlling the natural even when we no longer consciously believe in doing so.
A crush of bridesmaid bouquets wait to go out last week.
Intellectual understanding of the devastating consequences wreaked by the legacy of separation from nature and from each other and the mistrust of both is not sufficient to create transformation. We could still re-create the old ways in our own actions because the inherited stories continue to live inside us. This is no surprise, because every social order reproduces itself through instilling such stories and habits in us through the process of socialization, the fundamental way in which the social enters the personal and persists. It is the very nature of this process - so personal, so deep, and so pervasive - that is one of the core obstacles to social change."
-From "Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness," by Miki Kashtan.
A lovely end of season weekly bouquet we delivered to Pie Sci this week. Have you been yet?
The book I quoted above is one of many sources I've been plumbing lately to help bring words to the sadness I've been feeling and the anger that's been building about the inadequacies of the systems which I have inherited.
How am I, as a small business owner, bound by the assumptions and paradigms in which I've been raised? How have those paradigms been upended in the recent generations of my family? (In many ways, over and over...) Spending time with older relatives, and gathering the stories & trying to name their assumptions, is a great way to look backward and take stock of those changes as they've happened.
The attic is filling with drying flowers to keep us happy in darker days.
I'd like the farm to grow more as a mechanism of togetherness. I'd like the flowers to grow more as a mechanism of consciousness to the earth & our interdependent web of life. I'd like farm visits to grow more as intergenerational connectivity spaces that light people from within and build safety & resilience. I'd also like the business to earn enough to offer significant compensation to the people who labor for it.
This is where I'm stuck lately - within our capitalist system, finding & exploiting the potential profits to enough extent to pay even 1 person enough that they can, or we can afford together, health insurance, car payments, rent or mortgage, and then some... it seems prohibited by scale, and by loss of pleasure. It seems prohibited by a lack of models of farmers and farm workers being paid, outside of government subsidies, through the so-called 'free market,' enough to live as well as they should.
This agricultural endeavor whose living memory & truth is so based on uneven & violent exploitation, and complicated trade subsidies which are themselves traded around to bolster or suppress political agendas.
When I ground myself in the practice of growing and designing flowers for local people to celebrate & mourn with, it makes sense. When I ground myself in the joy of providing a venue for local people to interact with an explicitly beautiful version of the natural world, it makes sense. When I place myself in the position of manager trying to use the economic system of our time to generate livelihoods for myself & others, it starts to stretch the limits of my comfort. But I still retain hope that a few more infrastructure investments will get us closer to that sustainable balance.
A favorite bridal bouquet of last week, shown off on our historic kitchen wallpaper.
From ancient longing to current reality, in love,
Dahlias & Ruti join together to be some of the prettiest things on the farm.
It's time to read 'Emergent Strategy' by adrienne maree brown. I bought my copy at Source Bookseller on Cass. The quotes below are from the book, which I've found to be a resonant verbalization of the lifestyle of love, justice, and togetherness-seeking that grabbed me and keeps me grounded here in my life in Detroit.
uti oversees Tuesday's deliveries.
"If the goal was to increase the love, rather than winning or dominating a constant opponent, I think we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would suddenly be seeing everything we do, everyone we meet, not through the tactical eyes of war, but through eyes of love. We would see that there's no such thing as a blank canvas, an empty land or a new idea - but everywhere there is complex, ancient, fertile ground full of potential."
Especially on these gray days, you can make your eyes vibrate and your heart beat faster by staring at these dianthus.
"our generation must walk the spiritual path that is available to us only in this time, with its own unique combination of wisdom and creation."
To types of double sunflowers, tall & short, together in the east field.
"Imagination is shaped by our entire life experience, our socialization, the concepts we are exposed to, where we fall in the global hierarchies of society."
Check out the return of the vining clematis, currently in wide release.
The decade long nap that we seem overdue for....
Can we quiet ourselves...
enough for what, is the question. When you act as though the outcome, the 'it' to avoid is obvious, you saying you voice is strongest...
The deepest brown sunflowers are best enjoyed in person - even with a flash we can't really catch that glow!
How Share You At To Me
>I affirm the right of dissent against malfeasance on grounds of human values.<
Current favorite farm pic: Sherry with that bouquet that only today can give us.
This is not abstract.
On the farm:
Uncle Shelbie lays cardboard for a path between the iris beds.
Here at Fresh Cut, we're prepping ground for our fall perennial shake-up. You might consider the same at your garden. We're gathering materials for passive sheet mulching to create new pathways. You know, cardboard > leaves > cardboard > leaves :: ad infinitum.
I'm struggling through a Farm Service Agency application for financing an outbuilding. It'll give us a cooler & covered outdoor design area.
The farm remains open every Thursday evening, 4-8pm, through October. Do come visit us, if you're able. Visiting farms is, objectively speaking, Good.
Isn't it cool how patterns repeat themselves throughout nature?
Did the eclipse leave any lasting impacts on you?
Are you still observing the sky?
Seen any birds lately?
A perfect cactus zinnia.
An exoskeleton that seems to be inscribed with an S.
I saw a falcon (or a hawk) on the compost pile today. I'm glad it didn't eat Ruti.
I heard a performer, Mama Sol, say over the weekend: "Whatever the question is, the answer is love." It rings true to me.
Sometimes I get frustrated to be in an industry (flowers) which is so closely tied to the fake notion of 'romantic love' sold through contemporary capitalistic media. But then, I feel grateful that you all know that true love is different from all that. Loving yourself, and breathing in the love that the flowers manifest, and breathing that same love out when you exhale, is the true love we're trading on.
The flavors of the flowers, once they're all together in their bouquets, taste just like love.
In his 1916 essay 'Cosmic Life' Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes: “I stepped down into the most hidden depths of my being, lamp in hand and ears alert, to discover whether, in the deepest recesses of the blackness within me, I might not see the glint of the waters of the current that flows on, whether I might not hear the murmur of their mysterious waters that rise from the uttermost depths and will burst forth no man knows where. With terror and intoxicating emotion, I realized that my own poor trifling existence was one with the immensity of all that is and all that is still in process of becoming”
To you, in love & solidarity,
A recent bridal bouquet for a beloved friend... it helps to know your customer!