When was the last time you were truly inspired? When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone to take a year out of your life to commit to something so seemingly random and radical? When was the last time you were ABSOLUTELY FASCINATED with something you never even knew you had an interest in?!?!
My name is Maria. I am, with no question, the eldest student attending the 2013 Richmond Farm School. As I look around the table at my fellow comrades, a feeling of awesomeness overcomes me when I realise that we are all here, together, sharing a keen desire to learn something that has almost no place in our current modern world. We are not here for credits, diplomas or degrees. We are here to acquire the kind of life skills that we cannot even possibly realise the full value of, and we are without a doubt, acquiring those skills with great credit to our INCREDIBLY high calibre instructors… Can I just say, ‘wow’??!?… ‘WOW!!!’.
There has not been one moment when I have thought to myself, ‘What a waste of time, energy and money!’, as I’ve felt a couple of times in the past , being sold ‘fluff’, while training to be a golf instructor. On the contrary! I have often been thinking of how seriously LUCKY we are to be learning agricultural skills from such quality and highly inspirational individuals! The desire to find purpose and have intentions that are worth my time, my energy and which make sense to me in this world, has always driven me to push harder to find knowledge and therefore fulfillment, in all areas of my life. It is an ongoing process but so far, with a lot of challenging obstacles, excruciating growing pains and great support from friends and family, I have been an amazingly lucky girl, managing to surround myself with exactly the kind of life experiences worth living for, at this time, in all areas of my life. Richmond Farm School is one of those things and I believe that everyone who is part of the school and The Sharing Farm, understands exactly what I am talking about, or we would not be here together working on developing a farm, an orchard, ourselves and the others who come to volunteer on the farm.
As the soil on the farm has still been quite wet to start planting and growing on, we have been doing a lot of classroom work, which means when we do venture outside, EVERY SINGLE THING we have done in the field and in the orchards, has been absolutely filled with purpose and intention! So when we amend a field with lime powder or make any single cut on a fruit tree, we know exactly WHY we are doing it! IT SO AWESOMELY MAKES SENSE!! ::)) I mean, isn’t it the worst feeling doing something that seemingly has no value or reasoning to it?!?! Don’t you treasure life more when every single thing you do has a conscious intention attached to it!!??! :)
One truth about how our school works… It is not a dictatorship!!! I wonder if our instructors have designed it so. I wonder if our instructors realise the way they are teaching us, thoroughly aligns with those of us who have chosen to attend Richmond Farm School. As we, who are attending the school, are also choosing (and at the very least considering), a future lifestyle that goes a little bit against the grain. We are choosing a bit differently than the current masses, and perhaps similarly to me, because it feels as if some of our choices have been taken away. Personally, I like having choices, especially since having only recently realised, the serious reality that we always, always, always have a choice – and the good ones are not necessarily the easiest. Our schooling provides us with many choices to make, as well, the vital information and knowledge needed to make well informed decisions. Choosing goes hand in hand with taking responsibility for all the decisions we make in our lives, and with responsibility comes reward, fulfillment and of course, the possibility of blame…!!!
Through example, we students are being taught that we are all in this together and that we are all connected. Wouldn’t you agree that that runs synonymously with humanity and nature? As our class moves into the growing season, it becomes apparent that if we are not being properly educated, and if we are not taking responsibility by speaking up to ask for more clarity (if needed), then we will not be able to help produce quality food for the The Sharing Farm – To SHARE!!! (And there could be a whole lot of finger pointing, head shaking and hungry folks around!!). Yes, we are all in this together!!! So, tasks on the farm are handed over to us students, with this great trust, huge faith and endearing encouragement!!! Could you imagine what it feels like to be a newbie student and handed a pair of 32 inch loppers, given a choice of ladders starting at (a daunting) 16 feet tall, then being presented with a whole orchard (or two), of pear and apple trees that need pruning!!??!?!! :)) It feels like, a bubbling eagerness to apply gained knowledge, the hesitation from self doubt, the willingness to take on responsibility, an expression of art, a great handful of gut instinct and a serious dose of science, all rolled into one!!! Of course no one said it would be easy!!! And IT’S NOT!! But if anyone doubts it’s worth doing….
1. Satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.
—Maria, 2013 Richmond Farm School Student
*The Richmond Farm School is a 10 month program focused on providing training for those who wish to join the ranks of those engaging in local agriculture. The Sharing Farm is the practicum site for the Richmond Farm School.