Farm News

Befriending the Common

SATURDAY, June 4, 2016 CSA WEEK #2

Dear CSA Friends,

As a farmer, I have the unique pleasure of developing close friendships with a diverse group of… plants. Did you think I was going to say people? From apple trees to zucchini bushes, I greatly enjoy getting to know the characteristics, personalities and temperaments of many different crops. Humans develop and deepen friendships with each other, and likewise over time my plant relationships have expanded with respect and knowledge for the miraculous leafy ‘neighbors’ that feed, shelter, cloth and heal us humans. I have learned not only what the edible parts of many plants look like, but also how each plant carries itself through all stages of growth.

Just as the certain curve of a nose or the characteristic broad arc of a smile allows to us recognize siblings or connect parents to children, plants of the same “family” sometimes share common traits. Because I have held carrot seed, seen carrot seedlings, harvested full sized carrots and smelled the flowers of the carrot plant, I can easily spot her cousins, the Apiaceae family. I thus come to know celery and cilantro, chervil, dill, fennel and parsley by their lacy leaves, slow growth habit and beautiful, delicate flower clusters.

Just like blossoming family friendships, the more I learn of plants, the more my admiration deepens. My fascination and reverence for all these photosynthesizing kin extends to common, often much maligned plants. One friend in particular, the lowly dandelion, has been so unfairly vilified it puzzles and astounds me.

Dandelions are truly extraordinary plants! In The Teeth of the Lion, the Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion, Anita Sanchez explores the myths and truths of this most ubiquitous plant. Here’s ten reasons I respect the dandelion.

Chemical manufacturers have characterized dandelions as ugly and weedy. They have made us feel shameful if we ‘allow’ their presence in our lawns. This is a plant that has been systematically targeted by herbicide companies simply to sell weed-killer. Notice your immediate reaction to the thought of letting the dandelion thrive in your yard or on a pot on your porch. Sound crazy?

Tug a little on the origins of your beliefs.

Just because our greater society believes this to be a useless, weedy plant, do you?

If we can have the motivation to explore how we reject or invite the natural world into our lives, we open ourselves up to the possibility of a more peaceable coexistence. We stop making enemies where there are none.  We stop taking for granted wonder and beauty simply because they are common.

Dismantling our assumptions requires us to tease apart truth from the judgment of societal ignorance. Once we learn who our true friends are, we can begin to make quiet, simple choices that speak to our highest values.

Your Farmer, AJ


Excerpt from “What the Plants Say”

Weed, it is you with your bad reputation that I love the most.
Teach me not to care what anyone has to say about me.
Help me to be in the world for no purpose at all except for the joy of sunlight and rain.
Keep me close to the edge, where everything wild begins.

~Poet Tom Hennen

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