One crisp, sunny March day in 2007, I looked out of my new kitchen window, across a field, and I saw Dan sitting on a tree stump having his lunch. I did not know him then. Only the day before had I purchased this land quite serendipitously. He finished his lunch and began his work. There were no people, cubicles, bonuses or supervisors: Just Dan and the Land. The simplicity and 'direct experience' of his manner touched me in a deep and curious way. Today, Dan Wolfe and his devoted and admirably-able son, Tobi, care for this Land with a heartfelt intelligence that approaches otherworldly: They are among my greatest teachers.
As the sheer magic of my good fortune exploded that spring, I met Robin Zitter whose life's work is Land Whispering. Walking along the land, Robin asked what I intended to do with the landscape. I found myself saying that I wanted to do what the land wanted to do: Ever since, we meet weekly to practice the art of "listening to the Land."
What is now Pom's Cabin Farm, at the time consisted of a large field of young blueberry plants, open spaces and logged woodlands, choking with invasive species. The few visitors who happened along were sleek black wasps and clever teams of raucous black crows. Near to this time, Douglas Tallamy's "Bringing Nature Home" was reviewed in The New York Times, and the confluence of these events changed my life.
The land purchase mostly designed itself, and our little group grew, coalescing around the Land. Cindy Conklin showed up early on and, thankfully, never left. Eric Zinke came over, a good neighbor, and now husbands our bees. In the summer of 2011, we gathered for coffee. Local friends joined, and coffees grew into Salon Suppers: We invited topics and their speakers … more friends and more ideas and suppers. All the while, the Land sat quietly outside the window, winking. Salons matured. I think we were curious and looking to open the conversation: We turned our heads to Canaan: Canaan’s Canfield Building called. I realize now that I had loved that Building.
We built a commercial kitchen in 2014, with a small dining area, wondering. We invited friends to 'wonder' with us: What did the Community want, and in turn what did we want? Otto Scharmer of MIT brilliantly writes about the process of letting go of preconceived ideas until there are no 'shoulds' remaining: We were at that place. We had ideas aplenty and were gathering more: Preserving local farm-harvest? Classes … Ayurvedic cooking? Herbal extracting? Local Produce? 'Canning in Canaan'? We wanted to create a space where ideas could germinate: Plantin' Seeds Farm Kitchen served its first farm plate in June of 2015. We did not have a plan.
We offer our menu in exchange for open donation, inviting our guests to share in the experience. This small, fundamental act of inquiry often introduces equal parts curiosity and mirth, as it describes our explicit intention. Our grocery costs are passed through, simply.
It strikes me, as I write this, that plantin' seeds is rooted in exploration of the world we share. 'Direct experience' (thank you, David Abram, for the language in your deeply inspiring book, "Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology") is the threshold of our work. It is an unwieldy term to define: When I try, often I circle my arms in the air, crossing over, in an effort to describe the intersecting area of two circles as our shared experience. That shared ground is known as 'vesica piscis.' That we could create a space, open to ideas and their interaction, is a dream I had not dared to dream: It is becoming our experience.
- Dale McDonald | Founder + CEO | plantin' seeds