THE FARM FEELS GOOD. We were delivered a nice rainy week and now back to drier winds. The fall season is slipping into the december transition time before winter season. It is so fitting, to be this week.
At the start of this week, I drove down in my truck to where everyone was carrying out transplants when they showed me the rainbow on the northwest sky. It was as if the rain was on its edge, the leaving time.
It also felt like a time of return. It felt like a visit from an old friend, a young spirit. Those of us who knew what it meant glanced at each other with knowing smiles before looking back to the sky.
Here we were, a year from when this garden was planted with sunflowers, days before we would lose the young woman who lived in the bamboo grove behind what we now call, "Ellen's Garden."
This week the emotions are in every move I make. I still shudder and realize my denial against the pain of loss and the real fact that she is gone, from a bright light, exactly like the sunflowers she planted, to ... some state i still don't understand.
Last year at the same time we were doing the same thing we are doing right now. We were planting for our first season of the CSA. In all that hope that comes with planting food, all that beauty of the green extensions and the varied petals with their colors, we experienced that loss that I will never forget.
Last year we dedicated our 2012 CSA season, the first full-year CSA ever offered in the USVI, to the life and spirit Ellen Nettles. She was a young intern who was wildly passionate about local organic food. When I say she was a bright light I am not doing her justice. She was radiant in everything she did, and made local organic food her goal in life to live and learn. And to share. And share she did. Much of the food this year came from her plantings. In fact, her basil plants are still growing!
At times, the CSA has not been all zinnias. There have been struggles, like the daily ones with the pests and diseases in the gardens, and others like interpersonal conflicts that come from living, working, and doing everything together like we do here at the farm with most of our staff. We have had floods, and then droughts. We've had sheep eat our greens, and dogs eat our sheep. We have been scraping by, yet surviving, financially, for the long fall months without our supplemental tourism income and most difficult growing season.
But through it all, in times like this, I get to see through a prism sometimes that reminds me of our friend, our sister, our inspiration -Ellen. It is that sign that we saw beaming out of the tide pools the day after. It was the one that arched over the Gaia garden last year while we hugged Ellen's father and sister in the rain. It seems it has been there every time I hear her name. It always brings us back together. Usually not a moment too late. When we see the rainbows we here reconnect on that basic human level for tolerance, mutual support, and love. It is the spirit of unity. It is the very essence of why we grow food for a living. Even further, it is why there is living. At least for me, that is the case.
You are beautiful, my friend. You are still here with us, our sister. The seeds that you have sewn reached over 76 CSA unique subscribers and more than 100 shares over 3 seasons in one year! We had that goal as our team here, and we succeeded. One year ago, we only had seeds and a lot of hope, fueled with a level of passion that you were known for.
Today, we have seedlings in the ground and hope arching over us. With this coming year we will again grow to new levels, while we and the plants reach up to the sky.
Yes, the farm really does feel good right now. It's getting windy again. The air is sweet with something I remember. But I can't put my finger on it.
To our island community taking part in our dream to supply local organic food to 1% of the USVI: Thank you for being our success. I know Ellen is very proud of our achievement.