Lessons from the farm

photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine  Country
There are so many lessons we learn from the farm.  
The obvious ones are about what grows where best, what to use to enrich the soil
why an insectary is important, what the "good bugs" can do to help,
and which plants to plant next to each other
An illuminating lesson for Executive Chef John Toulze was 
how the farm showed him what true seasonality means.
But then there are those lessons, which may, at first seem 
to just relate to a farm detail, but then we realize are actually life lessons
We've talked about learning patience from the farm, and this time of year, 
the insistence Mother Nature places on our following her lead reminds us 
to learn that one in real time and at nature's pace.
photo by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
One particularly important life lesson is about making mistakes.
Not simply that we will make mistakes, but that doing so is often a result 
of letting ourselves take risks as we strive to experiment, try new things. 
So then when we "fail," (or perhaps better to say 
"when something doesn't work out as planned"), 
what we learn from that experience is the opportunity 
to grow, discover something we didn't know. 
It is what we take from the experience that makes all the difference. 
In many ways there is no better place for this lesson than a garden.

With great enthusiasm, we create a plan or decide to try 
growing something only to discover it may not "take." 
Perhaps we chose a spot that didn't have
the best conditions for what we wanted to grow, 
perhaps we didn't do all we needed to do—in these circumstances, 
the lessons are clear and we make appropriate notes for the next planting.

the bok choy we planted
just didn't play out.
We have found that our soil is a bit overworked.
A "good" result from all that it has brought us,
but our lesson is we need to enrich it further. 
while the bok choy experiment may not have turned out
as we hoped, our microgreens project is booming
and the chefs love them!
But what about when we had just the right spot, took great care 
and it still just didn't flourish? Are the lessons there more elusive? 
Well, they may be when it comes to the farming details we need to "learn," 
but not when it comes to how this will help us grow. 
These are the times when the garden is truly our master teacher
encouraging us to take the insights gleaned from
what didn't work and apply that next time; 
reminding us to keep our spirits up when facing defeat, nudging us to move on 
and "pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again."

If the garden, like us, is a constantly growing organism,
each failure as well as each success contributes
to its overall growth, enriches and adds something for what we try next. 
The garden as a metaphor for our lives is dynamic, constantly changing, 
always in need of experimenting and trying "what's next. 
How else will we have the next harvest? How else will we move forward?

like a palette, what will we plant here?
We have learned much about the land that is our farm project.
And we continue to apply these lessons to our lives—understanding 
that when something "fails" there is actually success in the lessons learned 
and applied as we dig deeper into our selves to grow, to move forward.

What has your garden taught you? 
Whether it's what you can grow best in the place you farm 
or lessons that are more of a metaphor for your life?

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