Monday, February 10, 2014

Open Way Farm: The Plan

From the wilds of a north-central Vermont winter, we are dreaming of peas. Dreaming of chickens, high tunnels, functional barns and farm stands. Dreaming of bright air and seasons long growth. We are dreaming, and we are planning.

I just completed round one of a business plan, projecting out three years for the farm, and projecting further in visioning the long terms potential for this land and community. Lucky for me, I have nine folks out there in the world who are looking at it and critiquing it in the next few weeks. I did ask them, but they could have said no, so I am lucky, and grateful.

What's in this plan? The biggest aspect of the plan is to begin the financial engine of our homestead and small market farm, and to ground that engine in this good earth and space. These first years will be full of log jams, confusions, failures, and unexpected turns in the road. And each turn will be towards a long term sustainability, or at least that's the plan.

But I know that plans are meant to be thwarted and thrown in the trash heap, along with all the will and certainty of vision, in the face of the following that is required of me. I have decided very specifically that I am following God(ess) and the impulses and leadings within me, if meeting my joy and the world's need, are part of that plan.

This is a hard won belief and decision. To listen to my self, my self in relief, in reflection, in impulse and push, is not an easy thing, and not something I have always, or mostly trusted. But I'm here, working it out. I refuse to mock my desire, the movement within myself. I refuse to be suspicious of myself any longer.

This does not mean I do not plan, however! In some early board work, I remember being introduced to the article The Tyranny of Structurelessness. This article drove home what I had been experiencing in many small community based groups of which I was a part. The resistance to structure within groups leads to impotence and solipsism. It also leads to a lack of accountability and a sense of disconnection to a greater context or work. It also means you don't get anything done.

So I attempt to put a structure on what can feel like a structureless call to the wilds of the broken world, my heart reaching out to express a desire for connection with the earth, with broken and hard working movement builders, with sustainability and self-sufficiency as teacher and muse. I put numbers on start up costs, though they feel like a lot of conjecture. I made a list of goals and plans. I wrote a 25 year visioning statement.

I was surprised at just how specific I could get. Residencies for burnt out activists. Community gatherings and events around the cycles of farm and season. Connections with urban organizations needing space to send leaders and workers for respite. Niche markets or CSA membership, or value added products, or, or…..

There's a lot of possibility when we vision. It's powerful, and potentially paralyzing. And it needs to be tested, I need to test my vision, against the good minds of folks I respect and care for. I also need to take my vision to the feet of the woodlands, to the feet of God(ess), to the space where I am both powerful and vulnerable, and where I must listen.

I am sometimes good at this, and sometimes too caught up in my own self-importance to stop and do this important work. The good news, I find in this inconsistency, is that no matter what I do lessons and shifting happens. I cannot control what will happen, despite any expertise or best efforts. In fact, trying to do that leads to a lot of pain. And so I act, I plan, I build, and I know it is just as much an inchoate cry as the unformed vision welling up in me. And yet, it suffices, and things progress.

So again I find myself holding possibility and uncertainty, but this time looking at cash-flow numbers and risk analysis. Is it any different from holding these two headed hydra without the numbers? No, in fact, it is not. I am glad for the numbers, as an anchor to what will be happening in the next weeks and months. I am also glad for the years of work to get here, and the listening I make space for, or that is forced upon me, by the closeness I seek with the world, with the land, and with God(ess).

Bring it on, world. I am ready.

1 comment:

  1. thanks, as always, for the challenging vision. putting structure on a vision that we know will likely fall apart sounds a lot like teaching.