Our Work Starts with You.
With the gentle caressing of another rainfall, chores done, cows milked, bread rising and most of the gardening put on hold, I’ve filled the French press with coffee and grabbed my morning reading for some further edification from Wendell Berry as articulated in Citizenship Papers. Today’s “reading” was from the chapter titled “Going to Work”, words that always give me pause and make my ears perk up.
Subheading V.- Nevertheless, their work will have a precise and practical influence, first on the place where it is being done, and then on every place where its products are used, on every place where its attitude toward its products is felt, on every place to which its by-products are carried.
This chapter is a broad conversation, encompassing all walks of life and every profession but of course, this has huge, blatantly obvious implications for us both. You and I are the subjects of this glaringly pointed Subheading Number V.
From the time we get up in the morning and head out to open the chicken nest boxes to the time I stand out on the back patio engaged in my before-bedtime ritual of listening for lambs who can’t find their mothers, my work has impacts that reach farther than even I had previously considered.
Impact number 1. Our farming principles impact the ground we farm and the water that flows through my farm. My day to day decisions have “precise and practical” implications for all my neighbors, known and unknown. My water flows to Willie, Megan and their sweet twins and then on to the Burts with their five Burtlings wading in the stream that cuts through their farms and on to people I will never meet.
Impact number 2. Our day-to-day decisions regarding our animals affects you as our meat, dairy, eggs and honey leave the farm, finding their way into your home, landing on your kitchen counter on its way to your plate. Certainly, we understand and are conscious of that impact each and every moment of our day. It was the contemplation of the next portion of the sentence that really moved me.
… then on every place where its products are used, on every place where its attitude toward its products is felt, on every place to which its by-products are carried.
That’s you! There’s no telling how many times a week we are thanked by our customers for the work we do, contributing to their ability to provide the most healthful, delicious food for their families. Usually I try to help them understand how intricately intertwined we are and that sometimes it’s hard for them to see how directly their support impacts our ability to farm. I usually say something like “we couldn’t do this without you” and each time I feel like my words fall so woefully short, it’s almost embarrassing. Now, thanks again to Mr. Berry, I know why.
You are the ones who take our products into your homes, you feed them to your families, you have an attitude towards the food that begins with your love for yourself and for your families and extends to our family and our work. So, it is an amazing cycle that doesn’t begin on the farm. It begins in your hearts and we have come alongside you to make those hopes possible. The idea that we are really just helping you to realize your hopes for food that is truly good, clean, fair and delicious is the way I want to think about my work from this day forward!