The plane touched down in Minnesota. The air was crisp and dry. The energy of New York City closed off our 2018 with fireworks, but coming back into the terminal and seeing a bunch of boring Midwesterners in brightly-lit and orderly MSP felt good. I felt a sigh of relief.
A week ago, Amtrak brought our family through a cross-section of the US. A whistle stop in Winona. A quick hike through downtown Chicago. A two-hour romp down the mall in Washington DC before pulling into the glorious chaos which is New York City. We enjoyed the subway and people-watching, no doubt. We contended with crowds, witnessed a police raid, and ate really awesome pizza. The kids are a bit more street-smart, no doubt.
Back in my subzero home, not unlike all of you, I’m reflecting on the year and setting intentions for the new one.
I think we found a nice pace to farming in 2018. A little organization gave the season a flow while still pumping out some great produce. I should kick back and celebrate this new-found ease after so many years of pushing, but I’m an accomplishment junkie. I’m now dreaming up projects so I have a new mountain to summit. Still, I’ve begun to think about farming more of a practice than a series of tasks. As I eye 2019, I would like to continue the practice of soil building. Last year we produced just as much stuff on four acres as we did on five acres in 2017. If we are to continue this march to greater productivity we need to better manage fertility to make every square foot count.
My farming ambitions were in check in large part because I dumped so much time into Manna Food Co-op and rode all the ups and downs of a start-up retail storefront. We experienced the highs of a huge sales day at Mannafest, a successful search for new employees, and the opening of the deli—where you can get the ever-popular Ryan’s Green Machine 🙂 We also felt the lows of leadership changes, labor stresses, and worry about making payroll. As the guy who writes the checks and jumped into the fray to help manage the store during the summer, I must say that I’m stronger for the experience and grateful for the many people who have taken us this far – all board members, suppliers, staff, and customers. I think slowly but surely we’re building something good.
One of my personal intentions for 2019 is to re-commit to the local businesses and people that transform the pretty landscape in which we live into a really cool and interesting place. If we want a strong local community, we need to commit to being part of that community, not live with one toe in and our hearts focused elsewhere. The universe produces lots of things that pull our attention not only from community life, but even our own families. I hope I can make 2019 a year of reconnection, a time of living my ideals.