I am an unconventional farmer. I don’t own my own land. I live in an apartment. And that apartment happens to sit right in the middle of Los Angeles.
While my world is a world away from ‘traditional’ farming, I still find myself doing a lot of the same general things a farmer might do a few hundred miles north on a hundred acres, just in a completely different way. I wake up at 5am every day without an alarm; the first thing I think about (besides gratitude) is when the sun will come up so I can go downstairs and see how things are growing; and I think, talk and plan for growing and cooking food all day long. Oh, and I have a Farm Dog.
Sara just turned 13 (aka 91) and she’s still going as strong as ever. She’s definitely the urban Farm Dog here at The Edible Apartment, and she keeps a close watch on everything. Most nights she sleeps under my bed, directly under my body and I can hear her snoring through the mattress. When I wake up and turn on the light, she emerges from under the bed like she’s coming out from her nightly cocoon and seeing life for the first time. She wags her tail, starts dancing around next to the bed and even smiles (if you’ve seen Sara, you’ve seen her smile).
I’m not one of those crazy pet people, but when we are having this brief daily greeting with each other, I like to say good morning to her and ask her what she’s going to do today. And (maybe because she’s a hound and hounds always have this inquisitive look) I always picture her answering: “What do you mean what am I doing today, I’m doing SARA!”
It’s a funny reminder to me that each day, I only have to do ME. I don’t have to do anyone else’s life, just my own. That is a huge relief. I had an old life, and it just wasn’t ‘me.’ This life I’ve created for myself after my divorce has been the most positive, happy and fulfilling daily adventure I’ve ever experienced. And I’m just getting started…
When I say I am a ‘farmer’ of course I think of the traditional practice of cultivating food, but there is a more ephemeral connotation to the word. I think we are all farmers, cultivating our own lives. Creating what feels authentic for each of us. Growing our dreams, patiently waiting them out, weathering storms, enjoying and sharing the harvest.
For me, I love that every day I get to do “JILL.” I like that on a planet of 7 Billion + people, I am the only one who has ever started an organization solely to grow food on apartment building land. I like that I am the voice for a massive group of people who want food freedom – and community - but don’t own a house. I like that every day I get to wake up and, simply, put this mission into action, on a local, and eventually global scale. My farm dog Sara does Sara, I simply have to do me.
When you wake up today, just remember that you only have to Do You. Not anyone else. Not what you think you are supposed to do. Not what pleases other people, but what pleases you. Maybe the hard part is to get real about what you want and who you are, but once you go through that, the rest is kind of easy.
You sort of just wake up, wag your tail, and Do You. Oh, and don’t forget to eat your greens ;)