Our Re-Introduction to a Sentient World

Reader Contribution by Darby Weaver and Life Arises Farm
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It has been a tough spring on the farm; the cold weather and consistent rainfall has slowed down our progress in the fields and has stalled the growth of our early transplanted crops.  Every season has its trials and this is even more true when breaking ground for the first time in a new place. The extended cold temperatures reduced the activity of the biological communities in our soils and the breakdown of the pasture grasses that have held dominion over this landscape for the last 35 years has been a true feat.  The morning after we planted our first half acre of crops we awoke to a snow blanketed landscape. Even so, the days continue to lengthen and more of our germinated trays of vegetables, herbs, and flowers make their way out of the greenhouse to harden off before planting. The momentum of tiny leaves unfolding from previously dormant plants is nourishing to a body accustomed to the browns and frost laden hues of winter.

We are doing our best to take this moment to catch our breath.  Before we know it the season will be in full swing and I will lose all recollection of what the word “slow” means.  All the scars of the long winter are starting to fade and eventually I will reach a point in the season where a frost might feel like a welcoming deadline.  This burnout, which typically finds me in July, is just far enough away that I remain eager for the growth patterns of our cultivated fields, newly planted apples and blueberries, and native edibles of the forest to pick up their pace.  My dreams are full of sexy tomatoes, aromatic herbs, and the deafening crunch of the first cucumber which always seems to cancel out all other sounds in the known Universe. I dream of laying my body down amidst the wild greenery and feeling the light touch of insects, exploring my arms and legs like a mountainous ridgeline.

The warblers and indigo buntings continue to paint the trees in colors and notes that further harmonize the growing crescendo of beings emerging from their hibernation, returning from their migrations, cracking open-fresh from eggs, or landing on the earth-awakened from a dreaming womb.  The wisdom of the branching beings who have remained rooted in the landscape through all seasons is passed through the ecosystem by their mycelium partners and their spring blooms bring light into form. This library of memories instructs all who find their home in this region and the plant communities, native and otherwise, all have their say over what conditions will arise in this place and time.  I find myself lost deep in this bubble of ecological resilience and I often struggle to want to come back out. I’ve cultivated a life inside the arcana of the living world and nothing about it feels foreign to me. The seasons come and go and the moon phases change who I am and this is all a part of what it means to be fluent in the language of the world.

The internet coaxes me out of my comfortable husk of moss and spring peeper songs and I am reminded of the perils that stand to dismantle the fabric that ties together this Earth.  I see industry continue to anthropomorphize and develop its own will and wantings and I see the large swath of destruction left in its wake. I see exploited peoples and oppressive forces that consolidate resources in the name of power and generate endless, unmanaged waste.  I begin to remember that my own farm is so small in context and such a tiny piece of the greater agricultural systems that have become infested with incentivized poisons and pollutants in the name of efficient and predictable profits. My heart aches as the default human style of conversation has become debate.  This magical realm I have been called to steward is in trouble and it’s not just the polar bears that will lose in the end.

I had the great pleasure of spending an entire day listening to Dr. Vandana Shiva speak about her efforts to connect a disengaged population with a very pressing environmental and agricultural situation.  She spoke so beautifully about how we’ve lost our way and what it would take to bring homeostasis back to the living being that is the Earth. She spoke not only of a reckoning with how human beings interact with this incredible living entity that we call home, but also a reckoning within the human psyche to connect once again to the spiritual guidance that emanates from our materially quieted souls.  Further inspiration found me throbbing with truth during an interview Oprah Winfrey conducted with Sister Joan Chittister, whose battle cry is love and whose tools for the restructuring of our world rely on each individual to find the courage, once again, to care.

And yet in these seemingly unstoppable times, there are always small, delicate elements of hope.  Every home garden, every undisturbed ecosystem, and every human being who has chosen to integrate in some way back into the natural rhythms of the Earth provides a ladder for us to continue to climb out of the self sabotaging behaviors that lower the immunities of our living planet.  Everyone who remembers how to sow a seed, who preserves a wetland on their property, makes compost, who shares homegrown foods with their family and neighbors, and who encourages all life to live abundantly alongside their own is a seed for a possible future waiting until the perfect conditions arrive to take root.  There is a profound knowing alive in each of us that wasn’t taught to us in school and will not go away. This knowing will either grow into inspiration and bear the sweet, elevated fruits of transformation, or it will remain repressed within our culture, a deepening knot of guilt fed by our inactivity.

We all have our callings where our compassion meets our passion.  Humans have reached a moment of opportunity where we can use the mistakes of our past and the destructive practices that are beginning to wither our own ability to thrive and use it to fertilize the birth of a new world.  Our cleverness in this kingdom has been rated, by us, as the highest form of intelligence and we have certainly performed miracles along our evolution in this plane. It is time to recognize that true intelligence resides in the undying wisdom of roots, leaves, symbiosis, rhythms, and regeneration and re-introduce ourselves the sentience of the natural world.

Darby Weaver has spent the last decade growing Biodynamic produce in the Southeast and teaching holistic and ecological methods to learners of all ages and backgrounds through articles, agriculture intensives, workshops, and lectures.  She has recently moved to the Northeast with her husband to begin a new venture called Life Arises Farm on 20 acres in Wolcott, Vermont.


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