Steve read our stories and our histories, our tales of our ancestors and our connection with the land, our reasons for wanting to farm and garden organically. And he wrote back to us in the form of an inspired letter:
Partners in the New AgriDharma
Partners! Welcome to the New AgriDharma. At last we are becoming clearer as to our purpose and our work-in-progress. Why is this so much fun? What makes this on-the-fly, under-funded, thrown together-at-the-last minute class so charismatic, so invigorating, so important to all of us? Let’s check it out.
Kat Marando, our partner in our class and my dear friend, said yesterday that what she misses in life is that mission impossible, that perhaps our forefathers felt as they built the farms and ranches moving west across America. (For a minute, lets lay aside the injustices and dark side of the mission, for which we will forever carry with us, and reawake to the mystical “purpose” of building a new life amidst the blessings and richness of the “dream” of a new land and a free life.) The challenge, the dangers, the heartache, the glory of being yourself and making your own life from the land, being sure of yourself and yours, amidst the power and apparent fickleness of Nature, becoming essentially one with your destiny.
Perhaps those years and circumstances are already written in the book of Time. But the now faint footprints of that energy and commitment still stir up dust in our memories. We all have it. Your heart stories of where you come from all echo this restlessness in our hearts. We all feel a silent but surrender-less (not really a word) pull to the land and her alluring possibilities of filling the gaps in our lives.
Partners! It could be that we are sitting on a fault line! With spades in hand and mountains of manure, with open land, open minds and open hearts, are we poised to actually do something?! Could our Indian Valley Farm be a rally cry to begin to reclaim America? Are we more than extra credit? Are we, AgriDharma?
AgriBusiness, is the art of making profit (more is better) from the earth. It involves skillful manipulation and short-term total control of nature, no matter what the long term horrific side-effects may be. Byzantine economic formulae underpin agribusiness, bleeding outward into all aspects of a material-valued belief system. Commodity futures, shareholder profits, strange, undecipherable networks of cloudy financing all drive food production for personal gain. But you guys know all this.
What about food for people? Our precious bodies are built with food. Our short lives are fueled with the fullness of the earth’s bounty. We forget so quickly, the cornerstones of physical life, taking too much for granted. We forget the true value of the food we eat in relation to us, our Earth and the “fullness thereof.” Is this really something that should be called a “commodity,” to fill peoples pockets with profits, to manipulate and control from remote boardrooms and faceless decision makers? Isn’t good food from the good Earth, essentially “holy?”
Let’s look at the new AgriDharma. Agri; farming or growing food. Dharma; the right way. Okay, these are loose literal translations. AgriDharma means the righteous, right way to grow food for all, in accordance with the values of the righteous human heart.
My spiritual teacher once told me that human souls work at their very best when they work from the heart, instead of the pocketbook, for a cause larger than ourselves, without harm to ourselves or the Earth, without selfish calculation or contracts. With joy and enthusiasm for the benefit of all. Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it. Maybe if we tried it, all else would be given to us as a side effect?
Maybe this is the new frontier that my dear sister Kat is longing for. It certainly feels like a frontier here at Indian Valley Farm, when we look at the two acres to be planted with no tractor, only the tools donated from St. Anthony Farm, through the channeling of our partner Liza. We have few precious hours per week to come together in AgriDharma on the fault line of change. What we do, and learn here together, is the cornerstone of this organic farming program. I am convinced (don’t ask me how) that it is also the cornerstone of something quite outside ourselves and significantly bigger than we can see. Perhaps we are balancing on the fault line of a new frontier.