In this season of rebirth and resurrection, it is so good to be here again–writing. It is as if the writing itself has helped me to come alive again. Not that I have been dead, but I have been tired. I’ve also been thinking – too much at times. And mulling over the past few years of this farming life that I have chosen. Or did it choose me? Shortly after the beginning of this year, I wrote to you of our intention to close down the farm. It was winter. I was sitting comfortably in my deep cave of regret, sadness, and the imagined life not realized.
You see, since 2012, Rebecca and I had set out to live a life rooted in community-based food production. We had worked hard at crafting a small business built upon integrity, which offered unadulterated food, and most of all, suffused with all our love. We had forged necessary relationships with suppliers, buyers, community-supported agriculture members, and the public at large. Because what were after was a business model steeped in financial, environmental, and personal sustainability. Along the way, we tasted success and swam in the praise of others, but more recently we came crashing into what felt like bittersweet failure.
It was winter. Our spirits were heavy. Off we traveled to Cape Town, South Africa. It was summer there–breathtaking, beautiful summer. During our time in the Mother City, we leaned heavily into the love and deep care of family and friends. We introduced Georgia to our community there and my mother basked in the joy of her newest granddaughter. We took long walks on many beaches and delighted in being a world away–literally–from the regret on our farm in Hanover. Over wine dinners and al fresco lunches, we considered with friends what moving forward might look like. Stay with growing food, or venture elsewhere? To what? No clear answers emerged, only expanded hearts.
While we were in Cape Town, many of you wrote to us. Some were saddened by our news and wished us luck with the rest of our lives, happy to have shared the past few years with us. Others were disappointed in the local food system and wondered if there were more they could have done for us. And one or two asked the question “is there a different business model to be explored?” We were touched by all your comments and outpouring of love as we wrestled with how to make meaning of the farm, our business, and our appetite for risk. The question of a different business model came out of left field, as we had never considered it. For us, growing food meant community-based farming with farmer’s markets, a CSA, and a few wholesale clients. But that has not worked for us. A reasonably different business model is to only grow wholesale produce, without the constraints of a CSA or the work of attending markets.
We write with delight this morning to let you know that we have considered the prospects of wholesale growing. Over wine, many conversations with family, some friends, and a local produce distributor, we have come to the conclusion that we may have appetite for another year of growing. If the different business model shows promise, we may continue. If not, we’ll have to craft a new path forward. Beginning this month, our vegetables will be exclusively distributed through Rudy’s Exotic Mushroom’s & Produce, based in Scott’s Addition. If you are a restaurant, grocery store, or other wholesale buyer, you can email Rudy Karkosak or Michael Kafantaris to set up an account or gather more information. We are excited about the opportunity to work with the team at Rudy’s Mushrooms and look forward to serving the Richmond community in new ways!
In many ways, the past four years of growing food and being a small business has mirrored the natural seasons. If our first year was spring, then this past year was winter. And now, it seems like we have come full circle to spring once more. On the horizon lies rebirth and the hazy vision of a farm reincarnate. In the spirit of Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese, the world is offering itself to our imagination, and little by little we are beginning to fathom our place in the family of things.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Be well, eat healthy, and be kind to yourself and others.
Alistar, Rebecca & Georgia