This past week as I was sitting on the ground searching through our hot pepper plants for the yellow and red peppers amidst the flourish of purple on our Chinese 5 Color, I was reminded of the line from a Wendell Berry poem “So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world.”
I think that is exactly what we are trying to do here at 5 Loaves Farm. We are doing something radical, something against the norm of our society, something that doesn’t quite compute. We are pushing the boundaries of what makes sense because our work is rooted in the belief that there is something greater than the work of our hands; it is rooted in the belief that foremost we are called to love the Lord and love the world. And sometimes that means doing something radical.
We choose to grow crops that don’t make sense- We dedicate our precious growing space to land-hungry crops such as corn and watermelon. Crops that don’t help us bring in nearly as much revenue as we would if we grew tomatoes or root veggies in their place. But these are the two crops that our neighbors most often ask us about and are most excited to see growing.
We take the time to grow and harvest Thai hot peppers. These peppers are about the size of your pinky fingernail and you end up sitting next to the plant for extended periods of time just to collect a portion of peppers probably worth half the time it just took to pick them. Yet these are the thing that our interns are most excited to take home with them off the farm.
So why? Why care for diversity over efficiency? Why set up a farmstand on the Westside when we could put in less effort and sell all our produce at the Bidwell Farmer’s Market? Why let people pick their own price for their farm share when we could have a guaranteed income? Why employ 11 youth when we could just train 5 to do the same work?
Because we believe that farming is so much more than just the growing and selling of crops. It is about investing in the earth, building healthy soils that will last for decades. It is about investing in a community of neighbors, growing the food that is unique to them, bringing them something special that was grown just down the block. It is about investing in the youth of our neighborhood, knowing that the skills, work experience, and encouragement we are giving them is worth infinitely more than the paycheck they receive each week. It is about investing in a work that we know is greater than pulling weeds for hours in the hot sun, greater than transplanting green onions in the cold spring rain, greater than getting up early every Saturday morning to harvest before the farmer’s market. It is because we love the Lord and we love the world. We love the earth and the commission we have been given to care for it. We love our neighbors, both those down the street and across the world, the old Italians of our neighborhood and the young Congolese children.
So as you take a bite of your sweet corn this week know that you are participating in something radical. It’s something simple, yet it’s a radical statement. Its saying, you care more about giving than taking, about investing more than you reap, you count on a harvest that is greater than what has been sown. Its saying that corn is worth growing for no reason more than its important to my neighbor. (well… and who doesn’t love homegrown sweet corn!)
“So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world.”