Greetings from Against the Grain and welcome to the eleventh week of the CSA! Just like past weeks, the customization period begins once this notification lands in your inbox (which should be around noon on Friday) and will end at 11:59pm on Sunday, August 9th. Just as a reminder, if you'd like to change pick up locations for the share that is currently open for customization, please email Harvie support to request that change. Always feel free to double check with Holly to make sure the change was made. It is so important to the farm that CSA members have flexibility in their pick up location.
Our apprentice profiles continue this week with a profile of Imani Humphries (pictured above with her partner, Victor Romano) by M Mueller...
The new agriculture which ATG pursues is powered by a different kind of agriculturalist. When we look broadly at agriculture in the US, present and past, we see the exploitation of farm workers and the degradation of human dignity that labors to grow food. Long entrenched economics of enforced slave labor, wage slave labor, the selling of one’s body for a paycheck, and the deadly commoditization of the human spirit sometimes keeps us from seeing the new-emerging farm worker: the spiritually engaged agriculturalist.
Imani Humphries is spiritually engaged. Her road to our farm emerges from a childhood immersed in a loving family. Her father always tended a modest garden of some kind, and she remembers her joy when he served the zucchini he had grown and cooked, onto the plates of his family. To her, this is the miracle of fruitful abundance.
Imani’s path toward our soil includes an early education of both spiritual and physical development. The visual arts attracted her in the early years; she also played soccer from an early age. Her love of the art of photography led her to the School of Art and Design at SUNY Purchase; and while out on a chance photo shoot, she encountered Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. The images of a sustainable farm engaged in education and culinary enjoyment enticed her, and she said to herself, “I could see myself there.”
While assisting in the farm store, doing chores, giving tours, she kept a weather eye out for learning the art of growing good vegetables. Then, when a position opened for her on the Science Barge, an initiative of Groundwork Hudson Valley on the Hudson River, she saw a completely different form of food production--hydroponics. Able to practice both hydroponics and agriculture, she was perfectly placed to observe food systems and their capabilities to produce food: on the one hand, plants with carefully controlled inputs suspended in water, on the other hand, the same vegetables grown in living systems connected to the soil of the earth. In either growing environment, it was the abundant fruit of the plants and their ability to feed many people that kept her early joy alive. And she has brought this joy to ATG Farm!
Here at ATG, she says, she can participate in a working farm community and gain confidence in her skills growing vegetables in a milieu of intense, highly diversified farming. She appreciates experiencing larger production, and continues to observe the livestock on which the farm depends. “Livestock feels grounded,” she says. “Settled.” Even surrounded by all the farm animals here, she still yearns for some experience with sheep, which the farm does not currently keep.
Recently Imani learned more about the history of her mother’s family. As it turns out, her grandmother was a farm laborer and several of her uncles and aunts supported themselves farming. In speaking with her mother about what it was like growing up on that farm, Imani learned more the deep joy of abundant food farmed, prepared and shared among family.
Daily calls with her mother taught her plenty. “Hey, Mom, we’re putting up hay today,” was answered with acknowledgement and a helpful hint or two on how to get through. Her grandmother is perhaps less sanguine—after all, she farmed so none of her descendants would ever have to—“But she gets it,” Imani says.
The sureness and knowledge Imani brings to growing vegetables is a joy to witness and to taste. We love her lively wit and kindness, and we are graced by the integrity with which she works. She teaches us the true dignity of labor, ensouled as it is with spiritual activity.
Much love and happy eating,
Holly, Andy and the Crew at ATG