A Letter from the Director, Gretchen Mead
The Good Earth, by Pearl H. Buck, has been on my reading list since Ms. McCormick’s American literature class in the 9th grade. Lucky for me, I found the novel in a ‘little free library’ while walking to a meeting recently. Spellbound, I read as the Wang Lung family went through a generation of crises that always resolved when Lung went back to the land. Wang Lung shaped his family from the earth – the money, the character, the values, and quite figuratively, the meat on their bones moved from the land, through his hands, and into the family around him. The land, always the saving grace of the family, until the bittersweet end when his son’s forsake the land, leaving us to assume that tragedy will befall them. It is the story of place-making’s inextricable enmeshment with people, land, culture and evolution.
Almost 50 years ago, my parents bought a house with land, where they raised their children, grew veggies, worked, harvested firewood, celebrated, and forest-gardened; slowly guiding the land and the family in a direction. Now they raise grandchildren there on holidays, and extended visits. Together we tend the land, harvest berries, chop wood. They calm the children, with their elder demand for quietude and order, while simultaneously teaching them something that is increasingly rare – having a deep connection to a piece of land is the center of a family.
Here we are now together, you and I and the entire VGI community, in this urban land, long ago developed from subsistence farming, to factory working, to service industry jobs. The land reminds us that we too have forsaken her, as she brings forth 1,000 year storms, diseases of excess, and crises of the spirit.
As Victory Garden Initiative heads towards accomplishing the vision for our new FarmHouse and the Victory Garden Urban Farm, I hold these stories of the land, and many, many others that I have heard through the years, in the light. This farm, now abundant and lush, needs you more than ever.
I wonder who will come make this land their own? Which families will tell stories of the farm they cared for as children? Who will understand that everything begins with the earth, and moves through our fingertips, into our psyche, through our bodies, shaping our muscles, our self-perception, our values, our culture? Who will walk here to gather ripe tomatoes for dinner tonight? Who will use the cabbage to make the slaw that their grandmother’s grandmother made? Who will tell the stories of land to their grandchildren?
It is you and I. Together with the growing Victory Garden community, and with a stirring of truth stirring in your being, waiting to bring to the forefront of your mind the call of this land and this culture that we shape together. The earth calls to you through this work that we do, and this mission, that is our very evolution.
Join us soon, for upcoming place-making activities, celebrations, and invitations to tend this good earth. Come make this place with us, especially, on September 15th, for our annual FarmRaiser, where fun, food, friends, and mission come together for a charming day at The Farm.