I never met my grandfather, Ray Miller Weller. My dad spoke of him often, telling stories of his quiet strength, his kind nature, his gentle heart. My grandfather Weller was a 7th generation farmer and this is a photo of him in his garden several years after he sold the Weller family farm. It’s one of the few photos that I have of him and I’m glad it’s a photo of him doing what he loved the most.
Farming skipped a generation and now, well, now there’s me. Though I’m farming in my own unique way and on a totally different (much smaller) scale, it’s pretty amazing to feel connected to my family’s history through my work.
In spite of the fact that “farming skipped a generation,” as my dad used to say with some relief, when, in the summer of 2009, I moved to PA and started a small Community Supported Agriculture program, my dad was the first one to lend a hand. And when I’d track chunks of fresh dirt onto the front porch after a few hours of work in the garden, my forehead covered in sweat, he’d smile at me with that special glimmer in his eye, offer me a sip of his coffee and say, “I just wish you could have met your grandfather.” I’d settle down next to him on the porch swing then. My father had a gift for bringing the past to life. The stories he told of his childhood were simple stories, but so warm and tender, sometimes funny, and always engaging. He wasn’t just telling you about something he remembered; he was inviting you to enter his past, to share in the experience all over again.
I was raised on stories (from both the Weller & Overington side), stories and a whole lot of love.
I didn’t realize how incredibly fortunate & blessed my childhood years were until I was much older. Knowing where I came from, feeling connected to my roots and loved, it sparked in me the desire to more deeply explore how we can, in a broken and hurting world, reconnect on both an individual and collective level with what we most value and hold sacred. Because when we cultivate qualities like empathy, deep listening, and love within ourselves, we act more compassionately toward all of life. I believe that this has to happen for the world to actually change.
While studying at Harvard Divinity School, I made a conscious choice to return to the region where I was raised, to start a community farm, and to give back to the community that raised me. Growing food for myself and for the members of my local community is work that is deeply rooted in relationship with myself, with others, and with the land.
But it’s not just about growing beautiful, delicious, fresh vegetables, though I absolutely LOVE that piece of it. It’s also about building community, engaging CSA members, educating community members, caring for the land – and hoping that these small, humbling (and so rewarding) efforts may help to create, in some small way, a better world for my sweet daughter Hannah and for those generations to follow.
this is work that i love. and value.
and it is work that i hope to share
and you . . .