It’s likely that this week you’ve been inundated with all things candy hearts, red roses and short-but-sweet love notes, all for it to come to a head today, the feast of St. Valentine. For some of you, Valentine’s Day is a precious moment in this dreary, cold month—a time to cuddle up next to your dearest and sip on a chocolate-infused latte or shower them with handmade tokens of your affection. Others of you may fall on the other end of the spectrum, eagerly waiting for the wash of pink and red to dissipate.
As you may have guessed, I identify more closely with the cute-terms-of-endearment type celebrators; however, I’d like to present a challenge you lovebirds and curmudgeons alike: This Valentine’s Day, simply share an act of love or kindness. It can be big or small, to someone you know or don’t—heck, why not share the love with your animal family or newly started seedlings?
After all, we didn’t jump into the profession (or hobby) of farming as a way to simply serve ourselves. We’ve taken on the burden of cultivating the land and hatching chicks from eggs because we ultimately want to give back to society. We want to provide our families with healthy food, free from harmful chemicals. We want to preserve a bit of family heritage, passed down many generations. We want to save a small piece of land from the über-development affecting many of our hometowns. There are many moments in a farmer’s life that are solitary—and maybe we like it that way—but we are also part of a bigger picture. We’re feeding people, we’re cleaning up the soil and the air, and whether or not we acknowledge it, we need the support of others in those endeavors.
I know life as a farmer can be tough—early chores, tight finances, insect pests and livestock illnesses—but for now, let’s not dwell on those things. Instead, let’s brainstorm ways we can serve people in our present moment, wherever we happen to be. I love the quote above from Jess Lively because it reminds us that we’re here on this earth to live in community with one another. Yes, we may find ourselves in hard situations or places we don’t like, but by making someone else’s day a little brighter, we’ve put meaning into our own lives.
Below I’ve started a list of sustainable ways to share the love today—or any day for that matter. What else are you doing to serve others this Valentine’s Day?
- Stick these labels on your CSA members’ vegetables.
- Make Fair Trade chocolate truffles, and add in your favorite farm-grown herbs.
- Treat to your chickens to bird bread.
- Craft valentines from homemade paper (made from recycled materials, of course).
- Play classical music for your tomato starts.
- Make a donation in honor of your Valentine to their favorite farming organization.
- Toss some rose petals in your next batch of soap for a touch of romance.
- Organize your favorite farmer’s records for the upcoming growing season.
- Clean an old cast-iron pan, and cook a delicious homemade meal with it.
- Gift an organic bouquet full of meaning-rich flowers—and maybe assemble it yourself.
- Start your favorite farmer’s soil blocks—they’re hands will thank you.
- Host a community pancake breakfast and use locally sourced ingredients—and shape the pancakes like hearts!
- Clean up your loved one’s old tools, or make them a new one.
- Shop library sales or used bookstores to build your valentine’s farm-resource library.
- Host a “Foods You Love” swap, and ask attendees to bring their favorite homemade products.
- Offer to take on laundry duties for the month (and sneak in some homemade detergent into your supplies).
- Plan a winter hike around your farm or favorite nature preserve.