This Fall marks an important transition for me, as well as for Veggielution Community Farm, as I have recently moved on from my position as Associate Director, joining the ranks of the many Veggielution supporters and volunteers.
When I was 22 years old, I was overcome by the urge to start a garden of my own. I wanted to explore my heritage, connect with what it meant to be from The Valley of Heart's Delight, and learn to live more sustainably. This simple, yet fundamental desire is what led me to found Veggielution in 2007 with good friends Monica Benavides and Amie Frisch.
This urge to connect with the land and get my hands dirty didn't come out of nowhere. I remember my mother telling me stories about growing up on her family farm on the Azores Islands. Back then, my grandfather would work the fields with oxen to grow corn, potatoes and other crops to feed his family and livestock.
This time of year, they worked with their neighbors to bring in the harvest between community meals and parties to celebrate a successful season. My parents filled my head with these stories of their homeland as I grew up below the East Hills of San Martin, surrounded by the beautiful farms and ranchland of Santa Clara County.
I've realized that so many of us in the Silicon Valley share a similar narrative, though the details vary greatly. Over half of the young people I see at the farm have parents who immigrated to the United States, oftentimes having left the farmland and countryside that their families had lived on for generations. When I talk to Santa Clara Valley old timers, they tell me about how they spent their summers cutting apricots in the orchards that are now gone, and how they miss the Valley of Heart's Delight's rural landscape. I believe that people in our area really miss this sense of homeland, of living in smaller communities and really knowing and being able to depend on our neighbors.
Through working together at the farm, we are working to re-establish that feeling, cultivating a tangible connection to our environment, a sense of place and of ownership over the community we live in. Being a part of this effort has had a deeply restorative effect on me, and I know it has been transformative for many of people who have been touched by the farm. One of my greatest pleasures has been watching people who normally would not meet in their regular lives work alongside each other at the farm. At this point, Veggielution can claim responsibility for more than a few lifelong friendships, and even a couple of weddings!
I've been blessed to meet and work with hundreds of wonderful people who are now part of the Veggielution family. Our farm is no longer defined by the work and intentions of the original co-founders, but by a huge community of people who have helped to create this place that we all love. Some of these people have organized new programs, like Pamela Venzie with Art in the Garden. Others introduce new volunteers to the experience of farming as workday leaders, or even help with fundraising and financial planning so our important work can continue.
So I'm leaving my position knowing that Veggielution has a clear direction towards continued success, and I'm glad that I still get to be along for the ride. In addition to helping out on the farm and lending my advice whenever it’s needed, I look forward to a very important role as a donor.
As a fellow Veggielutionary, I encourage you to consider what this farm means to you.
Veggielution is much more than a commercial farm selling its produce for profit, and monetary support is essential for us to continue our work. So I hope you will join me in donating generously to Veggielution's end of year campaign, which kicks off very soon. Together, we will keep the farm moving forward.
I look forward to seeing you again at the farm!