For me, it began with just being thankful for the chance to align my values with my actions—rather than sending a complaint to a company about wasteful packaging, I could harvest my food without using any plastic at all. Without needing to scan labels and boycott certain producers, I could be assured that my food was healthful and pesticide-free. I could use my dollars to support seed companies committed to preserving open-pollinated, rare varieties. I didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons of local conventional produce against organics trucked from California. It might not look like spirituality to some, but being able to leave behind those decisions and conflicts has been good for my soul. But most of all, growing food gave me a chance to feel like a part of the whole, in the flow of the Universe.

I could put my anthropologist’s hat back on, and do some research about the growing numbers of young people eschewing more conventional paths for farming, the growing interest in homesteading, in permaculture. I could point you to a couple other farmers who’ve also left successful knowledge-economy careers, who have similarly found farming more satisfying, more meaningful. You could join me and we could interview the Greenhorns, the WWOOFers, those seeking land and experience through Landlinks, the folks moving to Detroit and other post-industrial cities to help build urban farms, the organizers of, those agitating against GMOs, lobbying for a better farm bill, a better food bill, more land trusts. Some of them, I’m sure, would speak of their passion in spiritual terms. There’s work to be done, interesting analyses to be made. But I’m going to leave that to someone else. I’m going out to weed the back field, repair the fence where the rabbit got in, and uncover the mounds of squash plants that are pressing up against their row covers. Six a.m., birdsong, and dew—these are like prayers, they rub away my calluses, they make me raw, make me new.

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