June 2024 News

Kia-Beth Bennett

6/16/20243 min read

Hello from the farm and welcome to those who've recently joined us,

There is an understanding among those who work with plants that when there are needs, either on the part of the plants or the non-plants, that each of us will show up for the other in unexpected or unpredicted ways. For instance, the year I was diagnosed with anemia was the year the yellow dock – a plant high in iron – exploded in the garden. This year, the anti-depressant St John’s Wort is strong and populous, just as I face my most severe mental health issues. The relationships the plants and I nurture together create opportunities for exploration, education, and love. Of course, this concept of organisms, events and community showing up doesn’t apply just to plant-human relationships.

For decades, my parents shared food, education, and a love of land and agriculture with their community. As I began to manage first MTT, then the BMC, I doubled down on sharing, gifting and moving away from capitalistic, colonial mindsets. I took inspiration from Kristin Kimball’s book The Dirty Life, in which she writes of her husband, Mark, “He believed in the basic goodness and generosity of the world and its people. The world, in general, responded to him with goodness and generosity. When it didn’t, he largely ignored it, and was undeterred.” I became determined to carry that same faith, and to intentionally practice it.

Practicing does not mean sitting back and expecting all good will come to the farm with no effort on our part. Practicing means deliberately connecting to others, giving to them before they give to us, and asking what we can do to care for one another. It means believing someone when they say they can’t afford an eight-dollar pound of bacon, and reducing the price. It means giving away my mother’s cellphone, sharing her Celebration Celery seed and her stories. It means trusting in the customers who routinely pay $57 for one pound of seed potatoes, thereby allowing me to gift seed to others. Or bypassing money and trading chicks for piglets, a turkey for vegetables, and goat-sitting during an emergency. It means accepting calendula plants, walnut trees, candles and cookies as gifts, knowing that receiving, with both humility and a belief in our worth, is as important as giving.

Sometimes the practices I execute take enormous faith from the other humans here. Brian has been reminding, requesting and cajoling me for almost a year now to, “do something about the insane rat population.” The Norway rats enjoy invading grain barrels, eating melon plants and wandering about in illness-induced hazes, causing me terror that distemper was rampant on the farm (it’s not, we’re all okay. I vaccinated Cricket, the rat-hunting terrier.) Despite this, I was incredibly reluctant to attack the rats, preferring to make friends. Cricket came here trained to kill, and I’m happy to let him do his job, but I refused to install traps and of course forbid poisons. And guess what? The community showed up. In the past year, the eastern rat snakes have been moving in, unafraid of humans and chubby with the rats they’re gobbling. Cricket and Cheddar hunt daily, and the carrion beetles love the carcasses. So there, Brian – something was done. It just took a little faith and stalling.

And the more I reach out, the more returns. My cousin Holly learned I needed specialty, expensive shoe inserts, and she, unprompted, purchased them for me. My friend Zoe keeps me sane, arriving each week with coffee and a desire to fold laundry, wash dishes and make ice cream runs. Our neighbors showed up with a wagonload of lumber they simply gave us, no questions or requests. My mother’s Honda went to a dear friend of hers, and her Toyota then went to friends of ours, in a circular exchange that left everyone very, very satisfied.

We’re not yet outside of capitalism. The farm still charges the Akwesasne Ag Program money for piglets, because we still pay money to the grain supplier. My mortgage payments come from a slowly draining personal bank account. And if someone stops at the Stand and offers four dollars a pound for asparagus, I will accept. But I look forward to understanding how the world used to work, before the pollution of ownership, permanence and greed became the culture in which we live. And I enjoy being a part of a community who is bringing that back.

With love,

Kia-Beth

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