Some may not believe it, but I was very shy when I was a kid. When I was very little, people wondered if I spoke at all because my older brother, Corey, spoke for me. I would whisper to him what I wanted and he voiced my needs.
Today I have no problem speaking what’s on my mind, although one may rightfully argue that I have a challenge filtering the running monologe in my head. However, I’ve found that there’s real power in articulating a vision. Paint a picture of the world you want to see then go about making it happen. If others jump on board, great. If not, you just created a long to-do list.
My reflection today comes from our move of the co-op to downtown Detroit Lakes. I never knew that so many would respond to a vision of relocating and upgrading a small retail space. I first shared this vision with our dedicated board of six people, but, in time, I’ve spoken with hundreds directly and communicated the plan to thousands by newsletter, press releases, you name it.
I’d like to think that farming has prepared me for this task of bringing an idea to fruition, after all, that’s really what farming is all about. We plan a season, start it, and then push on it like crazy til fall. If a produce season is a flight, some years it ends up a crash landing, but we always get to the destination. In the early years of Lida Farm, I did a lot of this pushing alone as Mar was feeding babies. I remember well one April day planting onions in the mud with a hand dibble when the sky turned rain to sleet or how my arm ached after a day of drilling holes through steel to build our first greenhouse. Those first years were a series of me throwing tools, cursing at projects, and getting jacked enough on coffee to pound through yet another harvest day. It was a struggle. Well, it still is some weeks. The moral of the story, however, is that neighbors, customers, and members responded to our striving. Maybe they just had pity on us and threw us some dollars to give us hope, but, really, I think people respond to a genuine and honest effort at building something. It’s human nature.
This expansion and relocation of a cooperative, however, is not a solo act. The effort needs many more people, but the process remains the same as a farm season. Plan it, start it, and push on it as best as you can. This weekend we logged about 12 hours moving grocery equipment and the joyful part for me is how other board members pitched in. Just like farming, it feels good sitting down with your crew after a couple of hours of physical labor. You see the tangible result and it builds a camaradarie that’s deeply meaningful. Look, we’re getting somewhere. We’re building something together. Doesn’t this feel good?
What heartens me so much is that hundreds have now contributed to our efforts and thrown in their support. It isn’t just me planting onions by myself in the sleet. Again, people respond to a genuine and honest effort at building something. It may appear like straight up toil to others, but, for me, I find real joy in honest work. At this point as I sit here writing, I feel very grateful for those who have responded to our work and my fellow workers. It’s been a great ride and we have some miles yet to travel.
In the box:
- Couple Ears of Sweet Corn: I’m really pushing my luck on this stuff…very young, but I know people are excited so I did my best to find a couple approaching ripe stage
- Broccoli: Sorry not the prettiest – broccoli doesn’t hold well in that crazy heat we had all last week.
- Green Onions
- Bunch of Beets
- Zucchini: Makin’ a comeback