At the end of this, I’m going to ask you for money. I hope you’ll stick around…
The last time you read anything new here I was entering a “Sabbath Year” as I began what would’ve been Healing Springs Acres’ seventh season of producing 6,000 – 8,000 pounds of food each year to let both the farm, and the farmer, take a break – and to discern the future’s path. That Sabbath “Year” stretched into what I began calling a Sabbath Season. I realized I was too involved in a full time job as an interim pastor with an hour’s commute too many days a week to be able plant that next year. The Sabbath Season finally ended and I planted last year. I may as well not have done that.
What also happened was that a couple hundred acres of timber was cut just a mile or so south of here. The various herds of deer living on that acreage were displaced – to my place among others. Eager to get back to planting, I went ahead even though I was still distracted full time with paid work.
The result was a crop disaster. The distressed herds of deer, desperate for food and habitat, made up for their loss by adding to mine. They ate EVERY SINGLE sprout that dared come through the ground. That made getting back to planting somewhat anti-climactic and depressing – so you didn’t hear about it here.
Often I hear, “You know, what you need to do is _______! Have you ever thought about that???”
Yes. Yes, I have thought of that. Probably 6 or 8 years ago when I was as new to thinking about this as most of you are now. I probably even agree with you that whatever you have to suggest is, or was, a BRILLIANT idea!
For example — all the casual advice I got about electric fences to handle the deer problem was right on target! That’s the same Idea I had as I watched the situation unfold. If I’d had the money, I’d have gone THAT DAY to buy an electric fence system and I would’ve been fine.
Keep in mind though – NOTHING is sold from this farm – everything is given away. There is no inherent revenue to pay for implementing good ideas. Honestly, I really don’t need any more good ideas. I need CASH to implement the good ideas that are already on the table. It simply doesn’t matter how good your ideas are, or my ideas, when there is no cash to pay for implementing them.
The farm and I are both supported mostly out of my own back pocket by working part time at a couple of different things. All of it together really doesn’t come close to actually covering both my needs and the things needed to make the farm a more robust success. I keep planting though because I still believe that growing food to share with others is worth doing whether or not it’s easy. Each year I do that with a little less in hand than the year before, I wonder what it might look like to reach the point when I won’t be able to keep on planting.
For the most part, I’ve learned how to survive the rhythm of boom and bust that comes with being a part time interim pastor. Well, let’s face it. There’s really no “boom” involved. There are just periods of getting paid as little as God’s people can get away with paying you interspersed between the unpredictable periods of not getting paid at all.
Well, I guess there is a bit of a “boom” to being an interim – but you can’t cash it at the bank. Sometimes you get lucky and meet people who are truly good, and you make friends who are truly worth having. I’ve had that, and I’m richer for it. It’s unpredictable though. Sometimes you end up in a place where the family which has controlled the congregation for 30+ years turn out to be a bunch of Franklin Graham disciples who are really more committed to republican political doctrine than Christian theology. People like that don’t want someone around who preaches TO them. They only want someone who will preach FOR them. When you won’t preach FOR them to condemn their enemies, and won’t pat them on the head for the ways they’ve made God over in the image of their own selfish arrogance – well you usually don’t last long. And, once folk like that have said all the things about you that they need to say in order to justify themselves, you’re usually as glad to be rid of them as they are to be rid of you. So, even that isn’t a total bust.
However, an episode like that disrupts the already unstable rhythm of survival in fairly brutal ways. The unemployed gaps between interim assignments are challenging enough to navigate when you can see them coming. When they come prematurely with no warning or severance, and laced with open malice, well, that’s harder to navigate.
Throw in a global pandemic that knocks the world to its knees right as you’re trying to regain your footing in the world and, well, one starts to get an inkling of what it might look like not to be able to keep going.
This doesn’t feel like the right season to STOP growing food to share with people who are having a hard time getting enough. When there’s already not enough food for sale in grocery stores for people who actually CAN afford it I really don’t want it to be the season when we stop. Unfortunately, I may have reached the confluence of swirling currents that may take me under.
That would be a shame. There’s too much good happening. I have more volunteers ready to help this year than I’ve ever had going into another season. I have a podcast coming together about what people are doing to end hunger. That deserves a whole post of its own – so, for now I’ll just say that those interviews with other folks who have started food or hunger related efforts are some of the most inspiring conversation I’ve ever been privileged to have. I can’t wait for you to hear them! I’ve got seven interviews done out of the ten that I’d like to have “in-the-can” before I start releasing them publicly.
Since the very beginning of work at Healing Springs Acres, we’ve used the tag-line, “Planting, Providing, Proclaiming: Planting generosity, Providing food, Proclaiming that others can do the same.” That last part has been mostly rhetorical until the podcast began. By focusing each episode on what someone else is doing to try to help end hunger, my hope is that it will truly inspire and inform others about the possibilities for what they can also do in their own communities.
In less that a month, I have to decide whether or not my life is going to be financially stable enough to tend whatever seeds I put in the ground. This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.
I’m going to need you to help decide. I’ve reached the point at which this project will have to end if it has to continue being supported out of my back pocket. That’s the hard, cold, reality of how things have unfolded since January.
A couple hundred of you tell me on a regular basis what a wonderful, absolutely vital project this is. I appreciate that – but it isn’t enough to keep it going. If I’m going to be able to keep Planting, Providing, and Proclaiming, way more than a handful of you are going to have to do more than offer encouragement and ideas.
I’m going to need you to put your money where your mouth is.
The simplest and best way to do that is to go to this Patreon page and pledge whatever amount you can feel good about for monthly support. Oh sure, you can just write a check or send a gift through the paypal links here but, as a Patron you’ll be able to hear some of the podcast interviews pre-release and get other updates as well.
In order to support the regular work of the farm, finish launching the podcast, and to free up enough of my time from trying to survive to manage both, the Patreon page needs to be at a minimum of $2,500 per month.
You can help plant generosity.
You can help provide food.
You can help proclaim that others, including you, can do the same.
What do you want this season to hold?