Sunday, October 23, 2011

Holistic Farm Planning + Fall Fun with Friends

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Yesterday was my first Beginning Women Farmers class on Holistic Farm Planning in Hartford, offered through the CT chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. Fifteen other women, plus mentors and teachers, gathered for a full day of farm planning.

The class was great and exactly what I've been searching for: a way to incorporate my values into a truly sustainable business plan (one that incorporates social, economic, and environmental factors).  I was not expecting it to be so challenging.  For most of the class I felt pushed and overwhelmed.  It takes a lot of energy and thoughtfulness to really figure out what I'm searching for in life.

We spent the morning determining who the decision makers are on our farm and what resources we have (human, material, natural, and financial).  This was pretty straight forward, but time consuming.  When I finally "finished" making lists and working with the other woman in the group, I felt really supported to know how many resources I have.

The afternoon session was much more difficult.  We worked to develop Quality of Life Statements.  To do so, we answered questions like:

What do you value about life on the farm?
What things energize you on your farm?
What depletes you on your farm?
What do you want to contribute to your farm/community/world?
What do you love in life?
Describe your ideal economic situation.
Define the relationships you desire with those closest to you.
How would you like to be in terms of your physical, mental, and spiritual health?

From these questions we were able to identify some key values about ourselves (ie. independence, sense of accomplishment, time with family).  We're supposed to work on developing our values (guided by a SLEW of homework) before our class in a few weeks, as this information becomes the basis of our business plan and our decision making.  Once it's mostly written down, it will become a very valuable tool.

After the program, I headed up to visit friends at Scantic Valley Farm in Somers.  They have a beautiful farm and grow strawberries, pumpkins, Christmas trees, tobacco, beef, and pork.  It was really nice to enjoy the brisk autumn weather by wandering through their (what felt like to me once I was inside) enormous corn maze.  One of my favorite parts of their farm is the food cart, where they cook up burgers and hot dogs grown right on the farm.  You don't get more local than that.

After the corn maze, I gathered with a bunch of my young farmer friends for a harvest feast: roasted turkey, stuffing, squash, greens, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce.  A meal grown almost entirely by the women gathered around the table, and prepared by the same hands.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and it felt so nice to enjoy a sneak-peek with friends after a beautiful October day.

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