Yesterday I came to a profound and deeper understanding of my work as a grower of food in a rather unexpected way.
I was finally getting around to reading a book that Travis had gotten me for the holidays this past year called "#Girlboss" by Sophia Amoruso. I literally rolled my eyes when I opened it, much to my husbands dismay. Why did he get me this pink covered book with a shoulder padded powerful woman on it? Not only that but the title included a hashtag and the word "girl" next to "boss." The feminist in me was enraged and I hadn't even opened the book yet! My first impression was more than skeptical; I would likely just put it on my bookshelf and get rid of it in a few years, I thought to myself. But Travis kept bugging me to read it (along with all the other great books he has encouraged me to read over the years like Harry Potting and Game of Thrones- I should know better by now). So after staring at it on my nightstand for 5 months... I finally sat down and opened it for the first time last week. I read it within 2 days. No. I devoured it in 2 days.
The book is half memoir of Amoruso, founder and CEO of a clothing company called Nasty Gal, and half guide to female empowerment. I thoroughly enjoy a good story (especially during the farming season) and Amoruso's life story certainly cuts it; she went from high school drop-out to anarchist shoplifter to small-time eBay seller to CEO of her company with over 350 employees. She's real and she knows who she is and doesn't take anything too seriously. I appreciate women like that. And along the way, she shares sometimes shallow, yet sometimes brazen and sometimes profound advice. As Amoruso writes in the beginning, "I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don't ever grow up. Don't become a bore. Don't let The Man get to you. Ok? Cool. Then let's do this."
Once I started reading, I had an equal amount of awe and horror and I couldn't put it down. There's something that got my feminist, entrepreneurial, self-empowering side of me all excited. I guess being a #girlboss myself I can relate a lot to Amoruso. Just in a completely (and I mean COMPLETELY) different way than her. She made her start in thrift shops reselling vintage clothing on eBay and I got my start in the dirt selling vegetables. I don't care about clothing or style except that I must feel good in what I am wearing (and yes, I feel amazing in my Red Ants women's work pants and my dirty farm t-shirts). I own more farm related footwear than all other categories of shoes combined (how many categories for shoes are there anyways?).
On the second to last page, Amoruso wrote something that stopped me dead in my tracks amongst the previous pages full of non-applicable advice for a #farmgirlboss like myself, like resume and cover letter dos and don'ts. She wrote of the times she sold vintage on eBay, "Remember I touched every piece of clothing in those thrift stores. You have to do that with your life." Instantly I realized that I touch EVERY SINGLE vegetable at least 6 times or more before they end up on my CSA members plates and in their bellies. How profound was this realization for me that I began listing (I love journaling!) each opportunity I have to touch the food you eat during the CSA season. I touch the seed while seeding in the germination room. I water each plant daily for weeks. I bury each transplant in the ground. Then I weed around each plant, sometimes multiple times. I harvest the vegetables. Then I wash them. Then I bag or package each one and eventually pack and deliver boxes to your neighborhood. Depending on the crop, I might even touch it 10 times more. And therefore part of me and this land that I work on is infused within each vegetable. After you eat it, it becomes a part of your body and eventually, one way or another, becomes a part of the Earth again. Talk about the circle of life.
This whole epiphany came about because "#Girlboss" reminded me that I am literally putting a part myself out to the world with my vegetables and I need to do it respectfully and with gratitude. Each kernel, each floret, each fruit is a little package of love from this little plot of land from this #farmgirlboss. All us CSA farmers talk about member retention like it's something you can buy with fancy marketing plans or share price discounts. But to me, that fact that I touch every single vegetable you eat with love and intention for your good health and happiness means something, it means a lot. It's my passion and my profession and you eat it. And that, my friends, is the best member retention policy out there :)
I am so looking forward to this season!