For those of you who know me well (or follow me on Instagram) this probably comes as little or no surprise. The rest, however, might find this to be a strange choice as an answer to the question, ‘If you could go anywhere and do whatever you wanted for three months and still be gainfully employed, where would you go and what would you do?’
Fair enough. I shall tell you the story of me and farming.
The inciting incident.
I quit my job two years ago (as of May 19!) and had the luxury of deciding my last day at my old job and my first day at my new job. It was a no-brainer. I would finish my time at my old employer and take two weeks off before starting my new gig at Local Eye Site as their Director of Technology, a role that I was deeply honored to be hired for, and was really excited for the challenges ahead of me.
I needed the time off from work to regroup since the stress that I had experienced leading up to my departure had been pretty intense. I wanted to get away from computers. The work I do as a web developer means I stay glued to my Macbook Pro for several hours every day with few hours, let alone days, of computer-free living. So when I quit, I shut my computer and left it in my bag for two weeks.
Then I realized I had no clue what I was going to do for 14 days.
I made good use of the first week by spending it with my parents in my hometown of Newport, NC. I read books. I watched movies. I joked around with my parents. I did yardwork with my dad. It was a very relaxing time away from Raleigh. While I was there, I remembered that at my roommate’s house back in Raleigh there was an old garden area from the previous owner, but was overgrown and unusable.
I knew what I must do.
I knew I did not want to spend the whole next week leading up to starting my new job sitting around watching Netflix and eating chips, so this would be the perfect project.
I’ll clean it up and plant it. I’ll become a gardener.
Baby plants & baby gardener
So I bought some tools, plants and fertilizer and spent my first five days back in Raleigh pulling weeds, digging in the soil, and planting tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, and green peppers.
In the weeks that followed, I wondered (as did Garrett, my roommate) whether I would stick with it. And I absolutely loved it. I went out to check on my plants every morning, cup of coffee in hand. I watched them grow. I watered. I fertilized. AND THEY GREW! I kept at it and they started putting on flowers, and then the flowers turned into vegetables!
It was an amazing experience. I was raising plants that yielded food!
What I discovered was not simply plant biology: “vegetables come from plants.” Rather, I discovered that growing vegetables connected me with the oldest trade in the world: farming. As a Christian, I found myself meditating on the realities of original Creation. God had given man work. This work. “Work and till the earth, Adam. It is good.”(Gen.2:15) It made me think differently about my normal work. God has given me another job as a web programmer, but the purpose of that work is the same: to create and steward and cultivate this world, and for this to be an act of worship to the Creator.
Secondly, it gave me a tangible way to observe God’s hand at work each day, still creating Good things amidst all the pain and suffering so painfully obvious in our world. Every new leaf, every flower, every fruit screams to me “I am still here, and I am still at work. And all my work is Good.”
Thirdly, eating food that you grew yourself is really, really satisfying. And yeah, I take a lot of pictures of them on Instagram. Expect to see plenty during this trip as well.
So that is the story of me and farming. Well, gardening. I will save my story with farming proper for another time.