Its hard to find time to write during the growing season, despite the swirl of observations and contemplations that are always in the backdrop of the urgent and necessary on the farm. I let these softly float and settle and soak in, knowing at some point, I'll return to them in longer essay form. But one thing I am not always good at sharing is all the small stories that inspire the big ideas.
Farming is the physical practice of preparing and caring for land, plants and animals for economic returns. Literally it means "Field cultivation". However, lately I have been thinking more about the "culture" aspects of farming and flowers. The shared community and beliefs that surround a flower farm. Because flowers can be part of the everyday to the biggest events in our lifetime (birthdays, romance, marriage, illness, death), I feel I have been able to partake in so many people's lives.
So I thought I'd share a series of vignettes--interactions and observations from the farm, market, etc for your Sunday amusement.
Yesterday I worked a rainy Toronto Flower Market. An elderly woman and her husband came up to the table during a break in the storms. She asked if I could make her a corsage. I replied regrettably I didn't have the supplies on me. She then asked if I could supply the flowers and teach her how and she would get her granddaughter to help. I gave her a tutorial and began selecting blooms while listening to her and her husband talk with another woman about their life in Toronto. His journey from Germany to Canada. How they were giving the corsages to women in their church that were moving away from the community. The neighborhoods they knew and loved. They were cheerful, witty, and kind. As I gave them their small bundles, the husband shared with a wicked grin how his wife was an avid iphone user when the woman they were talking to suggested they post photos of the corsages online. "When she wakes, she turns to her iphone, not me. I sleep in the same bed for years with her but I know her real partner is the phone." She laughs, waves him off for his silliness, and they go off arm and arm together.
Discussion topics while working on the farm these last few weeks: balancing emotional work in families, acting as a birth doulas, use of psychedelics as therapy, veganism, how to have professional discussions about financial matters, meditation techniques, social media impacts on mental health, summer vacations, cooking during busy times, how government policies create racial discrimination in the US and Canada, creating good business "culture"....
Last Tuesday was my first market back at Trinity Bellwoods. It was a busy first day back and I am always so impressed by the patience of customers, willing to wait for their bouquets. I often chat with customers, getting to know their lives: their work, families, and gardens. Sometimes, while I work, I just listen, allowing their conversations to wash over me. The flowers often bring up stories about their own gardens, the flower gardens of their mothers and fathers, grandmothers, and aunts.
I listened to two women discuss where they lived in the neighbourhood and their favourite flowers as they waited. When one woman reached the head of the line, she told me how she only had $3 left to spend. I responded I could certainly sell her a few stems still, but the woman she had been conversing with immediately interjected and said, "Here, I've got $2. Make your bouquet $5"--the first woman accepted happily and then invited her to visit her and her community garden plot nearby.
How I met a 5 year old fairy: one pint sized customer, complete with a homemade crown waited patiently , hopping from one foot to another in line with her mother. When her turn arrived she announced "I need flowers for a fairy bouquet." I laughed and asked, "Well, what kind of colours do fairies like?" She answered promptly, "Yellow, orange, pink, and sometimes purple." She then went on to tell me how she was actually a fairy.