Since we arrived, and today especially, there have been a few themes and ideas that I think stood out. I want to talk about today in the context of these lessons that have emerged, at least for me personally.
First—the importance of a connection to your own sustenance. I have realized that sustainability, a connection to nature, and the ability to take pride in your own accomplishments all go hand in hand. At the Long Island farm, they do not use chemicals or industrial machines as shortcuts—instead, they often choose the more labor-intensive process over the "easy" way of doing things in order to maintain their commitment to organic and sustainable practices. They also benefit directly from their labor—they grow what they eat, and they see the operation flourish as a result of their harvests, which fund it. This general way of living and working really struck me. It made me realize that so often, we are oblivious to and disconnected from the things we depend on—I purchase my food from a grocery store without a second thought about where it comes from; I am completely dependent upon technology that I don't begin to understand. The experiences of the past four days have made me realize how rewarding it is to feel more connected to the things upon which I rely.
Second—talk to everyone at every opportunity! Everyone in this city has been so incredibly friendly to us. When asked, people have been so willing to share their stories, have been excited to hear about our interests, and have gone out of their way to volunteer all kinds of helpful suggestions and advice both about farming and touring Boston. I never realized how much you can learn just from making small talk.
Finally—community. On the farm today, and over the course of this trip in general, the importance of community has really been emphasized. Of the many diverse backgrounds that lead workers and volunteers to devote their time to the Long Island farm, one of the most inspiring in my opinion is a substance abuse rehab program that is run through the organization. It is often the case that all the effort that goes into achieving sobriety is undone when newly clean addicts return to the old community to which their addiction was tied. The cool thing about the Long Island farm program is that it not only provides a forum to help substance abusers get clean, it also helps them stay clean by providing a new, positive, tight-knit community. This dynamic, combined with the reward of directly seeing and reaping the benefits of one's own work, makes the program successful. In another sense, I felt that working on the farm today really reinforced our own little ASB community. We worked in teams together, we took on problems together, we literally pulled each other out of the mud at times, and all day long we laughed as hard as we worked.