Dear friends, welcome to this glorious new year! We survived. We made it this far. There is some really good stuff on the horizon. Yes, there will also be challenges to face, limits to test, and burdens to bear; there always are. But the sun is going to shine. Plants are going to grow. Birds are going to sing! And this year, my resolution is joy.
Joy As A Business Plan
Is joy a relevant goal for a farm? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to prioritize expansion, efficiency, financial solvency, or automation? I don’t think so. I believe crops grow better when they’re loved. I believe the land flourishes when the farmer is intimately connected to it: heart, soul, mind, and body. I believe joy flows when work is given freely from the heart, when the soul fulfills its highest purpose, when the mind follows the spark of inspiration, and when the body is engaged in the service of all of the above. So really, this year is about purposeful work, authenticity, and creativity. I am really looking forward to this year.
This joy year will look different than the year of growth I just concluded. My choice last year was to go all-in, to work as hard as I possibly could, and to try everything. I expanded my market vegetable garden, added new product offerings, signed up for even more farmers markets, tried some festivals, craft fairs, event hosting, and public speaking engagements. I needed that year to help me find my direction forward, and I truly loved every experience. But since I can’t find joy while consistently falling behind on my chores despite working as hard as I possibly can all of the time, I’ll have to be more selective with my commitments this year. I will be ruthless with my nos, so that my yeses can really shine.
The Shining Yeses of Joy
I’m spending this year with my land. I’m planting trees, cutting down honeysuckles, growing gardens, and spreading mulch like it’s going out of style. I’m also slowing down enough to pick berries, snuggle my chickens, sing to my bees, and walk in my woods. Land-based work is the foundation of this whole project. It’s the reason for everything else I am doing. And what am I doing it for, if I don’t allow myself to enjoy it? Enjoy… en-joy… in joy.
I write this blog, I write frequent short pieces on multiple social media platforms, and I am slowly working on a book. I may write another in-person talk. I have a deep passion for the work I am doing on this land, and so much gratitude for the lessons I have learned from it. It brings me great joy to share some of that with you, and to connect with you through our shared love of this beautiful planet. More of all of that, please!
One of my grand epiphanies from 2022 was about inviting my complete self to this project, and not just one narrow definition of myself. I still primarily identify as a farmer, but I’m also many other things. This lifestyle really fuels my creative side, and I am bursting with ideas for nature-inspired art. Also, this path I have chosen is really difficult, and I must bring everything I am to the table if I hope to succeed.
The Making of Room
In order to make room for more joy, I need to do less of a few things. I need to spend less time at off-farm events. I need to spend less time selling, planning, and managing. I need to streamline some of the behind-the-scenes business tasks so that I can spend most of my time doing my most essential work.
In order to achieve this, I must be really selective about the events that I do attend. I will still be at the farmers market selling my vegetables, but I can’t do as many markets as I did last year. I’m working on some new projects that I hope will help everyone stay connected and maintain access to all their favorite stuff, like a CSA, a mailing list, a calendar, and an online shop.
To compensate for spending less time at events, I’ll add in a sprinkling of (hopefully) highly impactful events. The Ohio Pawpaw Festival was especially kind to me last year, so I plan to be there again. I may also try a few other festivals.
Joy is not an easy path. In fact, I think this is the most challenging resolution I have ever made! There will be some real obstacles to achieving joy this year: a bear market economy on the rocks with a twist of recession, a lingering whiff of pandemic, and all the other challenges life inevitably throws our way. But those are just more reasons why we need to seek out the joy. Prioritize it. Embody it. Choose it.
I invite you to join me in this year of joy. Engage in your heart’s work. Follow your soul’s highest calling. And indulge your mind when it feels the spark of inspiration. Imagine all the wonders that could emerge as a result! Every soul contains a myriad of beautiful gifts. Let’s shower the world with ours together in 2023.
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“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” -Garrison Keillor