I wanted to take this opportunity to give a big old thank you to one amazing volunteer: Karen Lanier. Karen has been such a wonderful gift to our farm project. We met quite serendipitously in May and while she has been an amazing and consistent volunteer, she has also become a great friend. She was kind enough to share a bit of her story with us....
Testimonial of Volunteering on Watershed Farm, or What I Learned This Summer
by Karen Lanier
What brought me to Watershed Farm? A very different reason than most of the women here – I came to Lexington to be closer to a good man. But my story echoes their need of support through a transition. It has been a big shift for me to approach life with the intention to put down roots in this city, coming from a semi-migratory lifestyle that included living in small towns surrounded by magnificent wild spaces. Now I’m in the urban jungle, awake at all hours not to coyotes, but to siren howls, and the hammering sounds aren’t woodpeckers, but jackhammers.
I knew I wanted to find a balance between concrete and nature, as well as balance earning a living and producing my own food. That’s when Jessica and Watershed Farm entered the picture, as an answered prayer. I’ve been volunteering a few hours a week since May, in exchange for a few veggies and flowers.
Why do I continue to volunteer? For the soul nourishment that comes from slowing down my pace, kneeling with my hands in the earth, inhaling the indescribable freshness and realness that surrounds me and grounds me, sensing the power of creation in each seed, and noticing the subtle changes from one week to the next.
What do I actually do while I’m on the farm? It’s always a surprise, and I like that. I could show up and be the lone weeder, spending two solitary hours untangling morning glory vines from sweet potatoes. Or I could be swallowed up in the energy of 40 other volunteers, swarming through the green rows, spreading straw mulch and clearing pathways. Often, I get individual attention from the garden guru, Jessica, who infuses the atmosphere with her infectious joy. She may hand me a flat of seedlings, rattle off flowers’ names that sound like Greek goddesses, and show me how to handle them as I transplant them. Each step in the process is meaningful and rewarding, but the best part might just be harvesting. I’ll never forget the day I learned how to pull a potato out of the ground without harming the plant. It’s a delicate and strange feeling to blindly reach inside the earth, wiggle fingers around and detect a hard little ball, carefully separate it from the tendril that attaches it to the mother plant, and resurface with a golden (or russet) prize in your fist.
This summer has been full of firsts for me. One thing I’ve learned through my volunteer farming is that being a beginner is a wonderful way to exist in this world. Humble farmers know that they are never really in charge, and if you stay open to listening to nature’s messages, the right teachers will come to you.
Thanks so much, Karen! We love you, lady!