Dividends Elsewhere

On the farm, there are urgent things, and there are important things. Sometimes these are the same things—staking and stringing the tomatoes, for example. And this time of year, the list of urgent things is long. The tricky list, though, is the set of things that are important but not urgent, things that could easily slide in the ferocity of the season.

The flower gardens, for example. Most of my farmer colleagues don’t grow ornamental flower beds. And when they visit our farm, they marvel that I have time to plant and maintain them. One of them mentioned to Shel that she feels like she’s so busy with the urgent business of farming that there’s no time to make things “look pretty.”

I suppose I could find arguments to justify the flower beds’ utility, how they attract pollinators or could be used to make bouquets to sell at market, but the truth simply is that they delight me and others, so I make it a priority to tend to them. I don’t quite see the point of having the farm be only about production and efficiency and work. It’s not like we’re making a killing in this vocation, so we might as well find our dividends elsewhere, in the beauty of the fields, in the generosity of the earth.