After 36 years at Sandhill Farm, I found myself moving to town this last summer/fall. How did that happen?
My partner, who I met at Sandhill and used to live there, moved to Memphis MO (about 2000 population and 12 mi from Sandhill)with her daughter in high school, about 5 years ago. Since then, I’ve been coming to town for regular dates at their house. Her daughter graduated a year and a half ago and is now in college.
This last summer, my partner went to NY state for 3 months to be closer to family and explore other possible places to live. I decided to stay at her house in town – just to try it – during that time. During the summer months, I was working full time as an organic inspector: typically, being on inspection trips for a week and then back home for a week to write the reports and plan the next trip. I could do that as well from town as from sandhill. I continued to be a member and using a sandhill car to do the inspections. I also continued to visit regularly and occasionally be a consultant with the new farmers there and/or maintenance issues.
During my time in Memphis this summer, I realize that I’ve never actually lived on my own: I’ve lived in college dorms, group housing, and then in community. I find that I LOVE living at my partner’s house. I love living by myself, eating when & what I want/feel like at the time. I set up my computer in front of a double window overlooking her garden (she has converted both her front and back yard to raised beds/garden. I get to harvest various garden crops: potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, peaches, plums, etc. I actually worked more in the garden than I had in years on the farm. Further, there are beautiful large trees all around us here on various neighbors’ lots. Then I ride her bike all around town every day. And I notice the freedom from the worries/concerns about everyday life on the farm/commune. At the farm, wherever I walk, I see things that need attention: building/equipment maintenance, crops to be weeded/harvested, food to be processed etc. Sometimes, it was hard for me to relax – especially, as my focus was shifting to off-farm work (organic inspections). Anyway, I realize that I feel a lot lighter/freer in my body and spirit living in town.
Then my partner returns from NY and I realize that I am not ready to go back to Sandhill; however, I also feel that she is not ready to welcome me to live with her in her house. But I am wrong: she suggests we try living together – we are still doing it and liking it.
Then I tell my sandhill community that I will be leaving. It is a big deal: for them and me. My identity is wrapped up in the community. I was instrumental in setting up many of the systems and practices here. I know the history of the evolution of how and why we chose to do various buildings, systems, etc. I designed the fields that we farm/cultivate as well as the field crops that we grow and purchased most of the equipment we have. At the same time, I have known for some time that I would eventually leave the community (to be with my partner) and so I have been transitioning my areas of responsibilities to others here. Now I just have to let go of all the things I’ve come to love and appreciate here. And the community continues to evolve with new characters and a new generation.
Sandhill and I agree that my membership will end at the end of this year – although I have been living mostly in town for the last 6 months. I finally moved all of my stuff from the farm last week. I note that one of the subsections on the sandhill website is member blogs – by Laird and me. Laird left the community about 3 years ago and now I am leaving. On the next update of the website, we may no longer be there. Happy trails to all.