5 Things I Learned From Working On A Vegetable Farm
Last summer my husband and I both spontaneously took jobs at vegetable farms in Vermont. We packed up our lives, rented a small apartment in the mountains, and began work on two different farms in what is called the Upper Valley of Vermont.
It was an adventure I couldn’t wait to undertake, and, as I look back on the experience, one that has forever changed my way of thinking.
To say arriving on the farm for the first day was scary would be an understatement. I’m not the type of person to click with many people or jobs; previously I had a job working for my Mom, so this was definitely a change. I was just hoping it was a change for the better.
I started out learning how to water the flowers we had in the green houses and how to transplant the baby plants into bigger containers, and then the bigger plants straight into the field on the back of a tractor. It was quite fun. And throughout the summer I continued to gain all kinds of knowledge, but it wasn’t all about the plants. By the time the season had come to an end, I had taken away more than I had bargained for, in body, mind, and spirit.
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1) I learned that I was capable of doing the work
This was a big accomplishment for me considering just a few years earlier I was anorexic and barely had the strength to wake up in the morning.
I proved to myself and also to the anorexia that I was stronger than ever after recovering and I could pull my own weight, get dirty, and work hard.
2) I learned that I can make friends.
Before moving to Vermont my day revolved around going to the gym and basically doing nothing.
I isolated myself because I was afraid to socialize, so when I took this job, I was literally forced out of my shell.
But I started talking to others (slowly) and realized that it wasn’t as scary as I had thought.
3) I learned how to communicate with others.
Talking to others and making friends with coworkers was one thing but it was another to actually communicate clearly with them.
The farm was hectic and if you didn’t communicate effectively with everyone then things wouldn’t get done right.
I had to learn to use my voice and convey my ideas to others in order to get the job done.
4) I learned how to eat better.
Not to discount my eating before working at the farm, I just got better at using the produce and learned how to cook it right. I ate with the seasons, asparagus in spring, corn in July, brussel sprouts in the fall.
I tried new foods and studied up on how to cook them in order for their flavor to shine.
My husband and I also started cooking meals together and mutually enjoyed experimenting and trying new things.
5) Most importantly, I learned how to push through hard times and let go.
After the first week of work, I came home crying, desperately wanting to quit because I didn’t know how to deal with people and didn’t think anyone wanted me around. My husband talked me out of it and for the first time in a long time, I pushed through and didn’t quit.
I have a history of quitting when things are hard or I don’t like them.
This time something felt different, like I knew deep down I could keep going and come out on the other side. And that’s exactly what happened. I learned how to carry on when days were hard or when I felt inadequate.
I also learned how to deal with and often just let go of other people’s comments or actions. I learned to move past insecurity and how to stand on my own two feet while using my own unique voice.
When the season came to an end in late October, I was surprised to find myself feeling sad. I knew I was going to miss the farm. I had spent so much time in the fields working with dirty hands to harvest beets and kale.
And I had finally found a different part of myself I was always hoping to find, someone who could adapt, try new things, be an adventurer. I loved this person. Me. I loved me.
The good was knowing I could come back next spring and start again, just like the trees and all the flowers and produce. Next week I head back to the farm in Vermont and I can’t wait.
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