Welcome to the blog for Colgate University's interdisciplinary course on food. This is the place to keep up with what students in the course are experiencing in their work at Common Thread Community Farm and through their everyday encounters with food.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reflection on Common Thread

Last week, we were asked to reflect on our experiences working at Common Thread.  On Wednesday mornings for the majority of the semester, we were pulled out of our sleepy grogginess by getting on our hands and knees to feel around for potatoes (obviously, among a lot of other farming tasks, not all of which required being on hands and knees—some required being on our butts, some required bending over on our feet, some required reaching up, etc).  The limited hours spent farming this semester, a total of around thirty hours, was still less than a week of farming for Wendy and Asher. 

Farming was hard work.  And the time didn’t pass by slowly.  Yet, the whole time, we were contributing to something important—no, crucial—to human existence, something more important than ourselves.  One day sticks out in my mind, a day when half of our Wednesday morning crew was sick, and there were three of us and Asher.  That day, we spent the morning harvesting potatoes.  Three hours digging through the dirt, slowly filling up a bucket, and every once in a while getting a break to stretch your legs and go get another bucket once yours was full.  Grabbing one potato at a time for three hours did not seem like it amounted to much.  But, as we were leaving, Asher—who saw that we were a little tired and disheartened— told us to wait for a minute as he calculated how many pounds of potatoes we harvested.  1000 pounds of potatoes.  1000!!!  1000 pounds could provide a family with potatoes for a very long time, I would guess for at least a year.  Our monotonous treading through the rows of dirt amounted to something important, I would say something more important to the community than getting an extra two hours of sleep.  

In reflecting on our time at Common Thread, I find that it fostered a deep sense of gratitude.  In particular, in relation to what we’ve read and learned about in class, it fostered gratitude for farmers like Asher and Wendy who grow for a counter culture movement, while growing the size of that counter culture in the process.  They go against the industrial agriculture equation and put thought into the quality of the produce conditions, the workers’ situations, and the consumers’ desires.  Besides the Colgate Community Garden, Common Thread was the first food venue where I had complete trust in the produce.  Firstly, because I was able to watch the practices that went on at the farm.  Secondly, because I felt Asher and Wendy responded 100% honestly to any question we asked them, and they were eager to hear our thoughts and tell us about theirs.  Their operation was more than a factory for commodities, it was a farm feeding people founded on mutual respect and trust.  I am thankful for having these seeds planted in my mind, and I think (at least, hope) they will affect my interactions and consumer patterns in the future.  

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