In this photo you can see the vest I made from my homegrown cotton which I spun on a hand spindle and wove on a very small table loom. When people see it they want to know how much I would sell it for, even though it is not for sale and I am not taking orders. This has happened so many times that I have stopped to wonder why it is so important for people to assign a price to things. This vest is special to me, of course, but also special to those who admire it. They want to express a value, but the only value they know how to express is a monetary one.
There is much more value in something we produce ourselves than can be measured in dollars. Furthermore, if you have produced something for yourself or to give as a gift, with no plans on selling it, dollars shouldn’t even come into the conversation. The value is in the energy expended to make it or grow it and in the love and intention that was put into it along the way. That happens when you put your heart and soul into what you are doing and it greatly enhances your quality of life as the producer and the quality of life of the receiver.
Often you wouldn’t be able to make a living if you sold what you produced at a market, but unless that is your business, you have some other means of making money. It is very freeing to do things for the love of doing them. When you produce for yourself, you can live a life that is beyond what you could purchase. It is priceless! Read more about this at Homeplace Earth.
I believe there is a special energy that is in what we produce. I have a table runner that a friend wove for me many years ago. I feel it has that energy and I think of her when I handle it. The food we produce has that special energy. At our table, if I didn’t grow it, we usually know who did. I remember one year when we bought a local watermelon from a small grocery store. It was the first melon of the season for us and we thought it was good, especially being the first melon, but knew it probably wasn’t grown organically. The following week we bought a watermelon from an organic friend at the farmers market. It was definitely better than the first. The next watermelon we had was grown by our friend Kevin. Kevin had told me how he grew his melons. In the fall he decided where the melons would grow, dug a hole at each spot, put compost in, and then added more soil. He wanted the plants to get a boost when the roots reached the compost. Kevin’s watermelon was, by far, the sweetest and the best. I wondered if knowing how much care he took with his melons may have influenced our vote or if it would actually have scored higher on a Brix meter. I think both factors were in play there.
Someone could go through life with blinders on and miss the special energy I am talking about. We have to be prepared to recognize it and to enjoy it. We can’t see this energy, but we can feel it. However, we would have a hard time describing its value in words.
Cindy Conner is the author of Seed Libraries and Grow a Sustainable Diet and has produced DVDs about garden planning and managing cover crops with hand tools. Learn more about what she is up to at Homeplace Earth.
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