Monday, December 2, 2013

Food for Thought

The following was written by current volunteer Bailey Agattas

Embarking on a year of beginning a job in which I have no prior knowledge or experience may seem a crazy thing to do. Sticking to my comfort zone in the wonderful state of Michigan would have been much easier, but I was ready for a change and a challenge. I wanted to raise the sails of my dreams and let the wind of opportunity carry me wherever it felt like blowing. And so, as an idealistic, na├»ve, 23 year old girl with a degree in Mathematics in my back pocket, I set out to Long Island, New York in August to get my hands dirty in the soil of Homecoming Farm, a certified organic CSA farm on the property of the Dominican Sisters of Amityville.  

My experience after just three short months has been both parallel and disparate my expectations, but one of the most notable changes in my perspective has revolved around food. I view food a little differently than I did before I had such a close encounter with it. As a society, we seem to be very disconnected from the people and the process that provide our sustenance, and I am not exempt from this disconnection. Before working on the farm, I did not know how most fruits and vegetables grow, what they looked like in their most natural, raw state, or even that there are hundreds of thousands of different varieties of these plants. I have quickly learned the difference between Winterbor and Siberian Kale, a Green Zebra and a Sungold Tomato (my favorite kind!), and a Hakurei and a Scarlett Queen Turnip (although, both taste equally unpleasing to my taste buds… I still have a long way to go in developing a more exquisite palate!). Looking though seed catalogs, I continue to be fascinated by varieties of vegetables I have never seen before.


My newfound knowledge and curiosity travels with me to the local and chain grocery stores, where I spend a few extra minutes browsing the produce section. Every time I see a variety of vegetable grown on our farm, a little flurry of exhilaration runs through me, perhaps connoting a sense of connection with whomever grew this particular crop, or maybe a sense of relief and contentment that comes with familiarity. Likewise, when I see a foreign vegetable unknown to me, I feel a surge of wonder, and I note the delectable fruit in my mind with a reminder to ask “Farmer Don” about it. Even something as simple as a grocery run has been transformed into a reminder that there is so much beauty and perfection in God’s magnificent creation.

This creation is still such a beautiful mystery to me. Even after seeing the entire life-cycle, it still boggles my mind how such a tiny seed can become such a fruitful plant, without much attention from man, the caretaker of the earth. While I have had a hand in the planting, nourishing, and harvesting of the bountiful yield this season has brought, it has taught me much about the idea of control. As much as we believe that we can change the outcome of a certain situation or event, it is often times out of our hands. As much as we can dictate where the seeds will be planted, how much we will water them, and what type of fertilizer and compost we will use, we cannot guarantee that the seeds will grow into a plant and produce fruit. And if they do produce fruit, we cannot take much credit for the bounty. The lesson I have just begun to discover is that clinging to the illusion of control does nothing to change the outcome. I have learned how challenging it can be to trust that God will provide, but it is something I continue to believe. The hundreds of pounds of tomatoes, green beans, and cabbage that I have been able to harvest are proof enough to me that God always provides.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! Luke 12:22-28

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