It’s MLK Day, and I’m reflecting on his words that I shared last year:
“If I cannot do great things, then I can do small things in a great way.”
Here on the farm, seeds aren’t just metaphors for doing small things, they’re our constant teachers.
Growing doesn’t stop with planting the seeds — getting to the harvest requires constant work, consistent effort, and showing up every day to tend not only to the plants, but to the soil they’re rooted in.
In the realm of social justice work, it’s the same: showing up everyday to tend to the issues at hand and to transform the systems we’re rooted in.
For the last few years, we’ve been on a personal journey of learning and unlearning. As white farmers, we’ve begun to see how the agricultural system in this country supports us in ways that don’t extend to BIPOC farmers.
Those same systems impede meaningful national action when it comes to food justice for low-income people. We can see this in how subsidies are given to commodity production rather than regional food systems that make nourishing food accessible and affordable. We see it in food deserts. We see it everytime there is a debate on the merit of EBT/SNAP (food stamps) and the attempts by some lawmakers to slash funding that helps the most vulnerable simply eat.
And beyond that, we’re learning more about the full history of Vermont, now understanding that we’re farming on stolen Abenaki land.
So what do we do?
How do we hold all of this and transform it? How do we move in a way that acknowledges our privilege and use that privilege in a way that creates equity?
In all of this, I feel like a seedling. There’s so much to learn and so much action to take. When guilt and overwhelm sprout up, I pull them out like weeds, remembering they do nothing to help. Instead, I turn to something else King said:
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”
Like at the beginning of each farming season, there’s so much we don’t yet know and can’t yet see. But we plant the first seeds in faith that the seasons will turn. We tuck seedlings into soil, knowing that we don’t have to be at the harvest in order to show up for the process. That the only way to arrive at the harvest is to keep taking steps forward.
So on this day, as we honor Martin Luther King, jr., we pause to honor the systems of community action, civil disobedience, nonviolent action and the countless people who’ve tended to the soils of equality, justice, and peace.
We work to grow these, too, with each seed we plant. Though they are small, they can be great.
In Good Heart,
Kate & Edge