I’ll be the first to admit it: I have a horrible memory. I suppose that’s how I got into working for a magazine in the first place. I’ve always been drawn to documenting events—whether through written word or photography–so that I can remember the good times from my past. I have stacks upon stacks of photo albums, and occasionally I’ll flip through them. They muster up that warm, achy feeling of nostalgia, and as I browse them, I begin to remember the sounds and smells of that period in my life.
Another one of the things I love about the magazine world is that I’m constantly learning new things by reading the articles we publish. It’s information I put to use in my own garden and kitchen. But as much as I read, I learn even more when I get out onto someone else’s farm and work alongside them. I learn new ways of harvesting vegetables, planting seeds and fighting pests. The learning experience is rich, and it sticks with me longer than the words of an article (though, sometimes I still have to take a picture to jog my memory). I don’t like to forget the things people tell me, but like Ben Franklin says, I will. I’ve learned that as I try to cram more and more information into my brain, I’ll absorb it better if I’m in the middle of the action.
This week, I’m out visiting the farmers of the New Orleans area. Raised in the Midwest and with my current roots placed down in Kentucky, I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the Deep South. It’s exciting! People here are farming more than fruits, vegetables and traditional livestock. Seafood is a huge part of the local diet, and I’ve even seen farms that specialize in alligators! While the hot summer is the off-season for growing here, I’m learning so much—things I could have never imagined if I were reading about it from my computer screen.
So if there’s something right now you’re itching to dig into, do it! Approach a farmer friend who’s practicing a different husbandry method or growing technique, and ask if you can help them out with their farm chores for a day. Ask them questions and practice the method alongside them before taking the knowledge back to your own farm. If you’re like me, you might have to take a photo to remember all the details, but by getting yourself involved in new activities or practices, your own farm is sure to be enriched.
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