DANIELLE HUMPHREYS - BECOMING A FARMER
In February, I began a farming internship at Cloud Mountain Farm Center in Everson, WA, a non-profit dedicated to education, community and sustainability in local food systems. As someone who has spent the last 20 years involved in vocational ministry in various contexts, my choice to get involved in agriculture came at a surprise to a lot of people around me. But for those who know my deep connection to the earth, growing food, and faith, the internship made sense as the next right step.
Since I was a child, I have watched my mother care for and tend our small backyard garden in the California Bay Area, but it was a stop at a U-Pick peach orchard on a family road trip to L.A. when I was 8 years old that sparked a prophetic imagination within me. I decided that I wanted to grow up and become a fruit picker! My parents thought this was hilarious and it was told as a family joke for decades, but the seed had been planted. I have always found awe and wonder in creation, and especially after becoming a follower of Jesus there has been something deeply grounding about getting my hands dirty and doing what the first humans were called to do; to tend the garden.
As I have expanded my gardening experience over the last 10 years from potted tomatoes to a small urban homestead complete with a flock of chickens, to co-farming with a friend from church, and now on a much larger scale at a production farm, I often discover deep spiritual connections between being called to be a caretaker of the earth and my discipleship as a follower of Jesus. For example, when I prune branches in the vineyard, I can’t help but remember Jesus’ words in the opening verses of John 15: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
There are so many amazing truths and challenges to grow in my faith gained by recognizing the presence of the Spirit while also being attentive to a diversity of plants and systems, seasons and cycles, pruning and soil fertility. As a gardener/farmer/faith leader, I am hopeful of harvest and look forward to enjoying the fruit of my labor, both in the field and in the relationships around me. This is something I believe dovetails well with Circlewood’s vision of integrating faith and discipleship with creation care. I know that as I cultivate the land in community with my fellow farming interns, I open up fertile ground for growing food and also relationships, as well as an openness to what the Spirit wants to cultivate and grow within me. I am excited to see the ways in which Circlewood will assist in helping people grow deeper roots in their faith and their call to be stewards of the earth.