Do you ever take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the summer growing season and ask yourself, “How the heck did I get here?” Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our to-do lists that we completely lose sight of the path that brought us to our present moment. My summer has indeed been a harried one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been full of wonderful things—like nurturing my first home-grown pumpkins, attending family weddings and having rich conversations with friends over fresh herbal teas—but the days have been nothing less than full, and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get a chance to breathe.
Fortunately, I was blessed with a moment of respite last night. The evening air was thick with Kentucky’s characteristic summer humidity, and as I put away the last dishes of our evening meal, watching the last bits of sun paint the sky with a swirl of pinks, purples and blues, I savored a brief moment of peace. Although I could still feel vibrations of the busy day, the quietness of these final minutes allowed me to take stock of the season and give gratitude to the people who provide me daily encouragement and support.
When I think about the most influential people in my life, they vary quite drastically in personality—some seem to have boundless energy while others approach each day with easy, pensive strides—but each has one characteristic that I completely admire: passion. Their enthusiasm for the things that make them tick—be it their families, community service, careers or hobbies—can’t be hindered, and when I find myself in a state of discouragement, I can look to these people to give me a boost of motivation. I’ve crossed a number of people with enthusiasm and passion over the years, and each of their faces brings a sweet memory, but last night I reflected on a few specific individuals who have recently impacted me.
For the past couple years, I’ve been fortunate to stand alongside a dedicated group of people who are feeding the hungry with the season’s excess harvest. We call ourselves gleaners (maybe you’ve heard the term), and in the past four years, the leaders of this group have created a network of farmers and hunger organizations working to divert fruits and vegetables from the waste stream and into the bellies of people in our city who need a nutritious meal. I often look at the work they’ve done and wonder how it’s possible. In four years, more than 200,000 pounds of produce has provided more than 800,000 servings of fruits and vegetables to those who would otherwise be eating cheap, processed food or, worse, nothing at all. On paper, there aren’t enough hours in the day to make this happen—they all work full-time jobs and have full-time lives on top of their diligent work—yet the work gets done and they always have smiles on their faces.
Their enthusiasm is definitely contagious, and just being in the presence of these wonderful people inspires me to pull myself up by my bootstraps and keep chugging along, not to mention all the people they’ve inspired to do the same. The culture of loving and giving they’ve created in our community is felt and noticed, and changes are being made.
You, too, have passion and enthusiasm inside of you—I’m sure of it! Why else would you have delved into the exciting (and somewhat—ha!—tedious) world of farming? Don’t forget that when things get tough—when your cucumbers are plagued with squash bugs and the tomatoes have blossom end rot because of seven days of ceaseless rain—that your love for the land exudes far beyond the task at hand. You’re enthusiasm might just be inspiring someone else to follow their own passions.